Fasching 2019 in Oberursel

Hold on to your neckties today, because today’s Weiberfastnacht is the official beginning of the final culmination of Fasching. Dates vary every year (based on the Easter holiday), but these final days of celebrations always go from Thursday until Tuesday. This makes it six days of partytime for some.

On today’s Weiberfastnacht, ladies may cut off your tie. Wherever you are.

Many public and private parties are taking place, so there will be more random police checks on the roads this weekend.

Fasching in Oberursel

On Sunday, 3 March, take your children to the Faschingsparade in downtown Oberursel. The starting time for the parade is always 14:11.

For some pointers on what to do or what to bring, read my previous post Fasching Parade Oberursel.

Recently, Jen from simplegermany put together a very detailed guide on Carnival and Fasching in Germany. It combines in-depth up-to-date research as well as personal experience.
See for yourself:

Carnival Pack 1

“Carnival Pack 1” is a collection of 4 transcripts, each in their own PDF file. The pack is a ZIP file containing the 4 PDFs and is available from the AllThingsGerman Download Store.

The transcripts in this pack are:

To find out more, visit the AllThingsGerman Download Store.

Notes From Germany

One of my expat students related this cultural mishap to me this morning and I thought it worth sharing.

She happened to spend her winter holidays at home for a change and was surprised to hear the door bell ring on a cold January morning. Not expecting any visitors, she immediately called for her German-speaking daughter to help out with any inquiries at the door. When they opened the door, they found a bunch of young children dressed up in funny costumes, singing songs. Seeing this cultural oddity for the first time in her life, my student at once grabbed her video camera to film this and her digital camera to take photos as well. Assuming they were part of this pagan rite of Fasching, she started to hand out Gummibärchen and other sweets at the end of their performance. All the while she had been making a cheerful face, happy to share the foolish feeling for Fasching.

When the group asked for money, she handed it over, too. She thought it strange, but then she also remembered that around Fasching some kids rope off the street and ask drivers for a toll fee to pass.

Only when they started to draw numerals and letters on her door, she came to realize this had to be part of a different tradition.

After the group left, her daughter was able to enlighten her a bit about their visitors’ mission – she realized she had mistaken the German Sternsinger (Star Boys’ Singing Procession) (photo) for a bunch of Fasching aficionados.

The next day, the doorbell rang again. This time she had two firefighters and a little kid in front of her. Once more she called down her daughter to help out with the situation. This time the visitors looked serious to her and she was wondering if they had to inform her about a local emergency. All the while, she also had a serious look on her face to match their appearance.

This group turned out to be members of the local Fasching committee, going around trying to recruit volunteers and members to assist with their annual Faschingsparade...

The catholic church and Fasching obviously share the same roots. Behind any façade, it is hard to tell the real clowns apart.

Fasching in Germany – a seasonal nuisance

I guess you have to be German to really get into this Faschingsmode, which is a loud and lively gaiety on the streets, in bars, and other public meeting places around this time of year.

The highlight of the current Fasching season is on the last weekend in February. Starting 19 Feb (Thu), the bars will be full of costumed (more or less) people shouting Helau! or Alaaf! or whatever else depending on the region in Germany. All this partying will end on 24 Feb (Tue midnight) with Ash Wednesday marking the beginning of the forty days before Easter.

If you are a newcomer to Germany, then some pointers might be helpful.

*If you need to go out at night, expect to find crowded pubs and bars.

*If you go out with a tie on 19 Feb (Thu), be prepared to have it cut off – see Weiberfastnacht.

*For daytime drivers – local kids might stretch a rope across the street, asking for a toll to let you pass (most people give 50 cents or 1 euro). But you could also play ignorant and start speaking in a foreign language. English won’t do anymore; you’ll have to use something less common.

*This concerns both genders nowadays: you might anticipate indecent behavior as some Germans believe “anything goes” during this fifth season.

*Stay away from public toilets unless you have a strong stomach.

*For a cultural experience, I would advise to watch this from afar, namely on TV as most stations will broadcast the biggest parades in Mainz and Cologne on Rose Monday. (The very first parade in Germany took place in Cologne in 1823.)

*Some schools in our local state of Hesse are closed as well as in other German states. Some businesses in Cologne also close their doors on Rose Monday and Carnival Tuesday as to avoid having drunken employees show up at work.

*I could only wish some of this wonderful cheer by the Germans would distribute itself over their sometimes somber faces throughout the year. Even without facial disguise on Fasching, some Germans are so cheerful, one would not recognize them to be the same grumpy people otherwise.

By now you probably wonder when I started to dislike Fasching. I used to be part of a Fasching dance club in my local Franconian village of Hambach. At the age of 17, I danced on stage at the local Karnevalssitzung. Later on, so-called respected church members would make indecent passes in the name of “anything goes”, and I thought of them as total hypocrites. Throughout the year they would help pass the holy bread, but on Fasching they would pass as holy asses.

Back in the sixties and seventies – in a time were contraception was not allowed by the church – some children would be born in November not resembling their legal fathers. They used to be called Faschingskinder.

Karneval – Fasching – Fastnacht

Karneval, also known as Fasching or Fastnacht (even Fasnet, Fasnacht or Fasenacht), officially begins on 11th November at 11:11, but it only really gets going after Ephiphany.

However the really mad days only start on the Thursday before Rosenmontag, when the main events such as the processions take place.

This Thursday is also known as the Weiberfastnacht – on this day the women celebrate. (A word of warning to all men: don’t wear a tie to work on this day!)

The season is the last chance to drink and be merry before the start of Lent, and it is also to drive out the darkness of the winter.

To hear a simple explanation and a short discussion in German, listen to the podcast:

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