Ho Narro! Carnival in Germany

written by Konstanz Academics Team

Have you wondered lately while scrolling through your German friends Instagram and Facebook feed why they wear crazy costumes? The answer is simple: It’s carnival season in Germany. Although it can have a different name depending on the region you are, the history behind is the same.

Fasching (in Bavaria and Saxony), Fasnacht (Baden- Württemberg, Hessen), carnival (in the Ruhr area) or Fasnet as we say in Swabian-speaking parts in Germany is the celebration time before the 40-day fasting period which ends at Easter. Having its origin in times before the Christianization of Europe to celebrate the transition from cold winter days towards spring, Fasnet established as a festive season (some may even call it the fifth season) especially in Catholic parts as a week where powerless have the chance to criticize the people in power.
Starting on November 11 at 11:11 am, the main celebrations take place between the Thursday before Ash Wednesday, where students are freed in the morning by carnival revellers, and end with Ash Wednesday. From a more organizational perspective, every little village has its own carnival club with special clothes, figures and calls. Konstanz alone is home to 48 different clubs varying from town witches to trolls. During the Fasnet week, every bigger city has carnivals parades where the carnival revellers shout their paroles, throw sweets to the audience and spread joy. Along with this line there are several balls and evening events with shows and dances. Of course, it’s not necessary to join a club to feel the carnival spirit: you can wear any costume you want to, so don’t be surprised to meet Spiderman, giant bees, Lucky Luke or Trump on your way through Germany these days.

Carnival in Germany has also a political notion. It is not uncommon to criticize political and social evils in a satirical way. Especially the Carnival Monday’s parade in North Rhine-Westphalia is well known for dozens of handmade wagons with messages. This year one of the wagons portrayed Greta Thunberg, the young Swedish climate activist and initiator of “Fridays for future”, to spread her message and to criticize the reaction of some politicians and parents trying to prevent their children from protesting. Many people´s parties celebrate on the last day of carnival the “political Ash Wednesday” where they have a funny and sharp exchange of words against other parties, politicians and their politics.

With this in mind – Ho Narro to all Fasnet lovers!

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