Wednesday, March 9, 2011


Mardi Gras.  Fat Tuesday. Shrove Tuesday. Shrovetide. Carnival. Carnaval. Carnivale. Kanaval. Karneval. Fastnacht. Fasching. Fasnet. Fosnet. Maslenitsa. Maškare. Masopust. Fastelavn. Apokriés. BusójárásVastenavond. Vastelaovend.  FašiangyCrop Over....

...wait, Crop Over?  Yep in Barbados.  

Parties & celebrations took place around the world yesterday celebrating one last night of freedom before everyone has to get all serious and holy for Lent.  The largest of all the fests is, of course, Carnival in Brazil, but here in Karlsruhe, the festivities were in full swing.  

Fasching, also known as Karneval or Fastnacht depending on what region of Germany you are in, officially begins on November 11 at 11:11 pm.  Nothing really happens through Christmas and New Years, but during the weeks leading up to Lent it becomes a fun and lively celebration where people dress up in all sorts of crazy costumes.


There seem to be a few different reasons for why it is celebrated in Germany.  Originally a pagan holiday, Fasching was the time of year when the cold, winter spirits and witches no longer reigned and therefore were hunted down and destroyed.

As part of this tradition, people are often seen wearing witches masks and other creepy looking faces.  

These witches were part of the "Fastnachtsumzug" aka the parade. 

I'm not sure what's going on with the cute little guy in the front, but he was a nice change of pace from the ugly witches he was walking along with.  Perhaps that's why he's there, so that kids like me can see a nice face and not get totally freaked out.

Or his mom is one of the witches and made him come along.  Poor kid.  Nothing like having a witch for a mom. 

This little lady bug right here wasn't having any of the witches when they passed by.  

It's not uncommon either to see things like this hanging from restaurants or houses.  

Fasching also has religious roots, serving as a time when one can enjoy rich foods like meat, fats, sugar and dairy before having to give up such indulgences for Lent.

The Berliner, with its high fat, high sugar, is a popular treat during Fasching.  Bakeries are filled with them.  Streets are lined with vending carts packed full of Berliners.  And with deals such as 5 for 1 Euro, who can resist these jelly or chocolate filled donuts? 

Okay, if we are being TOTALLY honest, I could probably resist one.  I'm not such a fan unless it's super soft and from a really good bakery, but in general, most people can't say no.  

Just take a look for yourself.  Here is the cart around 10:00 in the morning...

And here it is just a few hours later in the afternoon.  

In Germany, Fasching also has influences from medieval times when Kings and royalty ruled harshly and spent obscene amounts of money on lavish things and built unnecessary castles all at the expense of their people.  

The common people used Karneval as time to let lose, break rules and basically give the middle finger to the people in charge.  They elected princes and princesses and created a mock government.  They poked fun at political authorities, religious leaders and aristocrats through humorous and satirical skits all while wearing masks and costumes in order to remain anonymous and avoid punishment for their actions.  

In light of that, I now understand why this "float" was a part of the parade yesterday.     

 While I couldn't quite catch it in time as it drove by, this was meant to mock the ridiculous amount of construction taking place all over Karlsruhe.  The picture couldn't be more perfect, as in the background, you can see just one of the thousand construction sites in our city.  

They're working on taking this Strassenbahn system right here...

...and moving it underground.  It will be great when it's all said and 2014...but for now it is a nightmare to drive, or sometimes to even walk, anywhere.   

Another satirical float.

It has something to do with a politician, Peter Stampf, and a debate about the clearing of snow in the winter....I'm not 100% sure exactly as my German isn't at the political comprehension level just yet.  

I'm still on the food and store conversation level...opinions, beliefs, anything deep and meaningful, yeah, I don't have those conversations in German.  Or if I do, I'm sure I sound really shallow.  Not ideal but at least people can figure out that shallow or not, I am a nice person.

Whatever historical reasons for Fasching, in modern times it seems to be based around two different things, depending on your stage of and priorities in life.  For the kids, the families, the not so crazy people, Fasching is just a fun celebration of spring.  

For others, it is an excuse to drink all day and act crazy. If you're religious, it's a night to get all your "foolishness"--whatever that may look like, there are no boundaries--out before giving up your bad behavior for Lent.    

I prefer the fun part of it, obviously.  The part where they get dressed up in fun costumes.

He was one of a few Pancho wearers.  His amigos were sitting against the wall.  

Some of the costumes are a more patched-together look.

Very homemade looking.  

They dress their kiddos up as sweet fairies. 

This next little fairy was walking in front of me, which is perfect for being a picture taking creeper without them ever realizing it.  I did a lot of creeping this day obviously.  

But in this instance, at the exact moment that as I was clicking, Mom suddenly decided she and Fairy were going the wrong way and they turned around, hence the blur.  And of course my camera was pointed directly in Fairy's face, hence the freaked out look on little Fairy's face.  

Sorry little Fairy.  I'm really not a creeper.  I just thought your wings were so cute.  I didn't know you'd turn around and be scarred for life.    

Another child that might be scarred for life after yesterday...this silly chicken, whose mother is just begging the other kids to make fun of him.  Seriously, what kid wants to be called a chicken?

Ah the cute little monkey.  Monkey was a tough to get a good picture of. 

Between his jumping around like a monkey and the groups of people walking in front of him, I was lucky to even get these two before his big brother came over to steer him in another direction.

I love these two little guys. 

Uh oh, Polizei.  I think he even did the salute when he walked up to his little friends.  Precious

A (not so) happy clown.

The bigger "kids" parade through the streets with their friends. 

They greet you with a big "Helau!!!" (not sure why they say "Helau" instead of "Hallo" but whatev) as if they've known you their whole life. 

They play music and sing songs. 

They do a sort of "Trick-or-Treat" thing coming to your door asking for eggs or candy.  Actually, only the big kids ask for eggs.  Apparently they cook them or something?!?!?  They promised me they wouldn't throw them....

These girls just wanted candy.  Shocker.  

The little Indian girl and the girl on the far right are our landlords' girls.  They are twins and are so, so sweet.  

Kids can also be seen standing in the street holding signs asking that you pay the "toll" before you drive through.  I didn't know this until Monday when we saw some girls with a big sign stretched across the road that looked a little beat up from cars driving through.  I was didn't stop, (I feel so bad!) but had I known what they were doing, I would have most definitely emptied my ash tray for them!

In the afternoon, all the stores close and everyone gathers in the city for the Fastnachtsumzug.   

Interesting Fact: The inventor of the bike, Karl Drais, was born in Karlsruhe. Hence the giant replica of him on a bike in front of the not so giant replica of Karlsruhe's Castle.  

The city was packed.  I had to stand on my tippy toes and hold my camera high above my head in order to get any pictures.  It was a great calf work out.  Made me feel a little less guilty for skipping my run to go to the parade.

Oh yeah, and there was this annoying pole in my way.  By the time any of the floats got to where I could actually see them down on my level (I'm not the tallest chick there is) they had half disappeared.    

Thanks to Google though I was able to find the last part of this statement "Mit WitzHumor und viel Helau, zeigt Karlsruhe seine Narrenschau" which means something along the lines of "With wit and humor and much hello, Karlsruhe shows his foolish show."  

"Rancid Foxes" some kind of club from a town called Wäschenbeuren. 

They gave the kids candy and threw feathers on the adults.

Giraffe on a Segway.

Cowboys and Indians er Native Americans.  

No tribe is complete without their Chief.

My camera died at this point, which now looking back on it, was probably the Lord knowing I didn't have the time to be taking pictures of a parade all afternoon.  

As it was, I left the parade and just barely finished everything I needed to do before picking  up Luis and heading to our German lesson.  God is good. 

I did snap this last shot though with my iPhone before taking off.  I just had to.  It reminded me too much of home.    

Ah the west. The desert.  The cacti. 

And there you have it, my first Fasching.

Maybe next year, I can convince Luis to be a cow with me.  It seems to be a popular choice.  :)


Carissa said... Best Blogger Tips

Cara you are HILARIOUS! :)
I'm glad you enjoyed your first Fasching! Loved it! :) I'm glad you took so many pictures, it was like I was there!

Anonymous said... Best Blogger Tips

You are a nice person Cara! You are also funny, intelligent and interesting! I was thinking about how a German would be fascinated with our parades and how much the people would appreciate someone being so interested in them!

Anonymous said... Best Blogger Tips this Cara! I just said yesterday at work today is Ash Wednesday, Mardi Gras and Fasching... Josh and I went to a couple Fasching parades and festivities with some German friends. Loved all the pictures! How fun!!!

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