Our daughter sat mantling over her kill. An ocean of sweets lay on the floor surrounding her. She carefully organized her booty into piles: 15 lollipops; 20 small packets of gummi bears; 36 taffies; 28 hard candies; 5 small bags of kettle corn; a few stickers, lanyards, and what-ya-ma-call-its. Is it Halloween, you ask? No it’s FASCHING!
It’s Carnival time in Germany. No, there aren’t any topless feathered dancers on floats. But there are drill teams, masked wonders, colorful costumes, and kitschy community floats pulled by tractors. And yes, you might even see a pack of drunken pink Smurfs searching for a place to pee.
Germans love to cut loose and party. They work hard and play hard, so they love any chance they can get to enjoy the fest. This weekend, all over Germany, was characterized by parades, parties, and dressed up drunkenness.
The area around the Rhein is the stronghold for Fasching in Germany. People come from all over to dress up in silly costumes and enjoy the celebration before the Lenten season. Parades are full of varying clubs and community organizations all dressed up in a specific theme: Bees, Sleeping Beauties, Ghostbusters, New York Construction Workers. Each group, as they pass, throw out candies to the kids and shout “HELAU!” Spectators are expected to Helau back.
In the South, Fasching is terrifying. People dress as animals, devils, and witches. They are fighting off the last of the evil winter spirits. Although these parades are filled with frightening masks, whips and devil pokers, the participants are still having a great time. Once we were on a train full of men and women dressed as goats. They were drinking beer, eating homemade blood sausage, and ringing their bells on their way to a parade in Ulm.
If you want to read more about German Fasching traditions start here.