February 5, 2016
Most people consider the long winter months after Christmas to be dull, grey and dreary. While I have always loved the cold winter months, it was living in Germany that made this my favorite time of year.
Even though the days are short and often grey it is the most vibrant time of year in Germany. From unexpected schnapps drinking visitors, to colorful decorations throughout the streets, to parties, costumes and revelries, the deepest winter days mean one thing – its Fasching Season. Fasching, known as the fifth season, officially begins on November 11 but the biggest events are on the days leading up to Ash Wednesday. This pre-Lenten celebration is unequaled in vibrant displays of costumes, colors and music. It will always be one of the things I miss most from years in Germany.
In my former German hometown of Pfullendorf, the festivities have already begun. On Schmotziger Donnerstag, the day begins at 5:00 am – with whips cracking outside your window. Today, everyone wears a costume. You will run into clowns, cowboys, fairies and pirates everywhere you go. Early in the morning members of the various Fasching Clubs will free the children from the schools and kindergartens, take over the town hall and raise the Narrenbaum in the town square. The festivities have begun.
Over the course of the weekend, there will be balls and parties and on Rosenmontag (the Monday before Ash Wednesday) is the giant parade – a highlight of the festivities, where the schnapps flows freely and spectators and participants alike are fully costumed. Tuesday you’ll find the Preisschnellen in the Marktplatz – a whip cracking competition in the main square, and that evening you’ll find the hemdglonkerumzug mit hexenverbrennen – the nightgown parade with a witch burning.
The burning of the witch signifies the end of the celebrations, the next day is Ash Wednesday, the start of the Lenten period. But the vibrant memories of the Fasching celebrations are enough to last you through the remainder of the dark winter days.
Here are a few pictures from Fasnet in Pfullendorf.
The first thing you notice are the Vibrant decorations throughout the town. Brightening the darkest of winter days.
A colorful bunting is strung throughout the streets before the festivities.
Banners also begin to appear
The buildings seem even more cheerful than usual with the colorful bunting.
Even the town’s tower is decorated for the festivities.
The Narrenbaum – the fool’s tree.
Beautiful fachwerk becomes even lovelier
Time for festivities – and Berliners!
The Schnellers, ready for an early schnapps. They use their whips to frighten away winter, and announce the start of Fasnet
Sometimes belonging is helping someone celebrate their holidays. This is part of a Danish Fasching celebration.
The parade leader – The Narrenpolizei, the fool’s police followed by a Faschingverein. First you hear the bells, then the march, and the parade is on!
Another integral part to the Schwabian Fastnet is the Narrenbaum. The tree is raised the Thursday before Ash Wednesday.
The Narrenpolizei and the head Schneller lead the parade through the town.
The Hänsele carry balloons made of pig bladders.
Witches on the street, it must be time for Fasching.
One of the various Fasching groups in Pfullendorf – the Nidler
Schaalweiber from Pfullendorf
Fasching Parade in Pfullendorf Germany
Children join in the Fashing parades, continuing family and community traditions
If you are a fan of marching bands, you’ll love the Fasching Parade. There are always several bands, playing lively music!
The masks include several animals. I have seen frogs, unicorns and rats, just to name a few!
Some Fasching masks are frightening
Participants in the parade hand out sweets to the children.
Some Fasching masks are friendly
All of the Fasching costumes are colorful.
Some Fasching masks are comical.
There are always plenty of witches in the Fasching Parades.
Each club has a different theme and history
Groups travel from all over to participate in multiple parades and events throughout Fasching.
Nothing beats a Fasching Parade.
The masks are fabulous. Each mask is one of a kind. Some are made by the club members, others are carved by artisans.
Vibrant smiles everywhere you turn during Fasching Season
Vibrant Music throughout the festivities.
This group shoots off a cannon every now and again throughout the parade route.
Whip crackers of all ages compete for the honor of being one of the best.
You’ll find bands everywhere. Even in the café when you stop in to warm yourself.
The witches jump over the remnants of the burned witch.
Head over to WordPress to find more examples of Vibrant