Germany’s Carnival season – Party time

Tractor decorated for Fasching

Tractor decorated for Fasching

Fasching, Germany’s Carnival season starts each year on the 11th minute of November 11th, and goes until the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday (Shroud Tuesday).  It is called the “Fifth Season”,  and it usually “goes out with a BANG!”

When traveling through German (or living here, as I do), you find that as a whole, the Germans are a pretty conservative group of people.  They can appear stern and solemn in many respects.  However, if you visit Germany during the biggest times of the Fasching season, you will see that all of that solemnity goes by the wayside!  (Of course, you can see that during Oktoberfest also!) In other words, when the Germans “party”, they tend to do it in a big way.

Fasching has a lot of historical aspects and traditions.  If you want to find out more about this, check this fasching link from About.com. Fasching was a time when medieval Germans would take a chance on breaking away from their traditional roles and take a little time to poke fun at their lives and their rulers.

Hall decorated for Fasching

Hall decorated for Fasching

The week at the end of Fasching is full of events, and it’s important to be on the lookout for “unusual” events.  The dates for the end of Fasching depend upon the date for Easter (as they are pre-Lenten festivities), so they change every year, but the big events start on the Thursday before Ash Wednesday, which is “Women’s Carnival.”  This day resembles “Sadie Hawkins Day” in American culture.  Women tend to get crazy – they go around cutting men’s ties and kissing them (the men, not the ties).  It is a day that many men would prefer to stay off the streets, or many of them wear old ties, so if they get cut, it doesn’t matter.  (I’ve seen the kitchen crew at my school chase the principal around to get at his tie…really quite a big deal!)

Fasching Party

Fasching Party

Rosenmontag, the Monday of Ash Wednesday week, is another fun day.  In many places people take the afternoon off from work, so stores are generally closed after noon.  There are many parades in most towns and villages, and the people dress in costumes.  (If you are out on the streets, it looks like Halloween in America.)

On Rosenmontag this year it was President’s Day for us Americans, so we were off work also.  We were in the small town of Rhinebollen, Germany and the partying and parades were everywhere in evidence.  People were costumed to the hilt, everything was decorated, and all the farm tractors and wagons were decorated as parade floats.  The celebrations  continue on Shrove Tuesday, and there are big, festive parties and balls in the evening with everyone in attendance.

Then, Ash Wednesday dawns and everything is back to the normal, solemn German culture again.  That is, until the next party season begins!

More Information
About Fasching

Photo Credit: Cheryl Patterson
Cheryl PattersonGuest Contributor, Cheryl Patterson, is a teacher for the Department of Defense School System in Germany. During the week she works with Army kids on an American Army Post, and on the weekends she and her husband take advantage of living in Europe, by traveling all over the continent. The Pattersons are avid participants in the walking sport of volksmarching, and incorporate the sport into their world travels.

 

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