So, one of the events that I most looked forward to this year was Fasching. Fasching is a celebration that takes place before the beginning of Lent, much like Mardi Gras. In the different regions in Germany, it has different names and a slightly different character. Where I previously lived in the Rheinland, it was called Karneval. In Rottenburg am Neckar, a small village near Tübingen, it is called Fasnet and has a tradition that dates back hundreds of years, and because of this I choose to visit Rottenburg to learn a bit about Fasching in the area.
There was also Fasching right at home in Tübingen, but it is a somewhat new tradition, since Tübingen is historically Protestant and Fasching is historically Catholic. The history of Fasching is also a lot better documented in Rottenburg than in Tübingen. I was able to learn a lot from the website of the group that organizes Fasching in Rottenburg and the link is below, although the information is only in German.
Fasnet consists of a large group of activities mostly directly before the beginning of Lent. The parade (Umzug) is lead by Queen Mechthild in Rottenburg, who is temporarily in charge of the city during Fasching. Both historical figures as well as a whole cast of characters specific to Rottenburg are portrayed by people dressed in costumes and carved wooden masks.
The characters include:
Ahland: a medieval depiction of the devil it is the main character of the Rottenburger Fasnet.
Pompele: a spirit that makes noise and carries a large noisemaker
Die Hexe (The Witch): the witches are the leaders of Rottenburgerfastnet and help to usher it in after Three King’s day
The final character is a jester/clown figure called Bogges, of which I unfortunately did not catch a photo.
During the parade the characters walk trough the city and play jokes on the bystanders. My friend Ingrid was standing at the front of our group and fell victim to the face-painting, hair-pulling, shoe-untying and inflated animal bladder-swinging antics of the various characters.
There is always something magical for me about Fasching because it is a time in which so many peope choose to come together to just have a good time regardless of social standing or (historically) station in life. It is a time of happiness and joy to celebrate the end of winter and the beginning of Lent as well. I hope you enjoyed reading a bit about my favorite time of year in Germany.
Link to more information to Rottenburger Fasnet (in German):