Hundreds of festivals going back decades are celebrated throughout the year in India: from Flying Kites (Makar Sankranti) to the Festival of Colors (Holi), Festival of Lights (Diwali) and the Great Rann of Kutch (Rann Utsav) — a celebration that actually lasts four months. These festivals show India’s vibrant culture in all its uniqueness and diversity. But Germany also has a special festive season which I didn’t know about which is celebrated in different ways across the country. You might be wondering why I wrote ‘German festive season’ instead of using the term ‘Carnival’. But ‘Carnival’ is a more general term and you need to be careful about using it for another similar celebration — Fasnacht. The Swabian-Alemannic Fastnacht (‘night before fasting’) is mainly celebrated in the south of Germany and differs in many ways from the Rhenish carnival (‘remove meat’ or ‘farewell to meat’) celebrated in the west of Germany, especially in Cologne.
As I’ve already lived in Cologne and am now in Friedrichshafen, I feel lucky to have experienced both events, and would like to share my impressions of Fasnacht in Friedrichshafen. I’m fascinated by how passionate the people here are about their Fasnacht. Bizarre masks and
costumes are the main attraction and the people wearing them are the ‘Narren’ (jesters). Different groups have their own costumes — they dress up as animals, witches or demons and come together to parade down the streets.
The beauty of Fasnacht is that it is not just a one-day event. In the Fasnacht season, parades take place in different parts of the region almost every weekend. Children even have their own parades and dress up like their parents, who accompany them in the processions. On some days tents are
set up for a performance with drinks and food. Different groups go from one tent to another, giving their performances, which include great live music, and at the end, everybody moves together in time to the beat. Groups come over from Switzerland to perform and their music is amazing. The music is what makes the celebration, with groups giving their best on stage with such an enormous amount of energy that it lifts you up and makes you dance.The jesters are free to perform whatever they want because they are hidden behind a mask. They choose key episodes from the year just past and retell them to the people in a most entertaining way.We all know about German engineering and work culture and how seriously Germans take their
work, but what impresses me most is how they are equally dedicated to this celebration.
The ‘Narren’ costumes are hand-made, and ultra-care is taken to make sure that everyone in the group dresses in the same way. In some cases, these costumes are quite heavy, but people still wear them, play music, dance, and perform in the parades. That’s the dedication I’m talking about.The joy of Fasnacht also comes from what it symbolizes — pushing the winter away to welcome the spring.
To sum up my own ‘Fasnacht’ experience — I arrived punctually for the start at 3 p.m. and got back
home at 4 a.m — so I don’t need to tell you that how I enjoyed it!
I’d like to hear about your own Fasnachts — how you celebrate, and what is different to celebrations
prepare yourselves for the amazing experience of Fasnacht in Friedrichshafen –
with the great Lake Constance on one side and an ocean of never-to-forget happenings on the