Fasent! Fasnet! Karneval! Fastelabend! Fassenacht! Fasching! Fastnacht! Fasnacht!
In these parts it is the “5th season”, and we say “Fastnacht”, but any or all of those terms might be used for the same thing. It is the Carnival Season- leading up to Mardi Gras and then, Lent. Basically, around here it is cold, dark and dreary. And, right around the corner, you have Lent, when people will focus on cleansing and sacrifice. So, how better to shake off the winter blues and get all that leftover wickedness out of your system than to engage in a month or two of Roleplay and Partying!?
The season is really just getting started. So far on the list in the newspaper for this week we see local towns hosting:
- Hoist Guild Banners
- Demon Night
- Foolswood Setup
- A musical Night Parade
- A Witches and Foolsguild ball
- A comically-named Witch’s festival (it doesn’t translate but it has a lot of ö’s in it.)
- Fool’s Baptism and Fastnachts Opening
- Meet the 2013 Fools
- a second Foolswood Setup in a different dorf
- and an Animal Mask Meeting
As you can gather, the main characters in Fastnacht celebrations are Witches, Demons and Fools. Witches are invariably played by large, burly men. But the other roles seem universal. Various guilds are in charge of their local festivities. Parades and masked balls are common and at the end there is a huge bonfire. Last year I enjoyed the season, though watching the long Offenburg parade during -4 degree weather was a bit exhausting. This year I hope to see a few more events. So far, though, all we have seen are the decorations and a couple tell-tale seasonal foods. My favorites are these (This also counts as your Weird German Food of the Week):
They are wonderful! Think of them like German/French/Italian buñuelos – thin, short, deep fried sugary goodness!
Oh, a note about the decorations- every town has different ones. At the top of the page I have a photo of Bühl dorf- our most local village. 1 km to the west is Weier, which has a completely different set of banners:
Kind of nifty seeing how each town goes about its celebrations. So, Stay tuned to learn more about Fastnacht as the season progresses!