Monday, March 27, 2006

Fasching/Mardi Gras 2006

You didn't realize Heidelberg was a hot spot for Mardi Gras fun, did you? er...a Fasching hot spot...well whatever it is, it's certainly a highlight for sleepy Heidelberg. Aside from the castle fireworks in the summer, fall festival, and Christmas markets, this is one of the few times Heidelberg comes alive for some midday celebration with a big parade and (continued) drinking to last into the wee hours of the night if you can make it.

But let's get this Mardi Gras/Fasching/Carnival (thing straightened out. Germans are, indeed, celebrating Fat Tuesday on this day, however the traditions of it vary from region to region. Wikipedia has plenty to say about it in the Germany section (Heidelberg resembles the "Austria" section the most), and my German class even talked about the carnival traditions of the German "stronghold" cities of Cologne (Köln), Düsseldorf, Aachen, Mainz, Bonn, Eschweiler, and Munich (München). What makes it different is that Fasching/Carnival is a season with various celebrations taking place on:
  • November 11, at precisely 11:11am--the official start of the season
  • January 6--Three Kings Day, or what Christian Americans know as the Epiphany
  • the Thursday before Ash Wednesday to Fat Tueday is the height of Fasching/Carnival with celebration every day. This Thursday is specifically known as "The Women's Day" (Altweiber/Wieverfastelovend...and I have no idea why it's called such),
  • Rose Monday (Rosenmontagszug) is the Monday before Fat Tuesday with another "climax" parade.
  • Fat Tuesday closes it down as the biggest and most widespread celebration
  • In this "season" many costume balls take place, which resemble something like a German Halloween party
With the exception of Three Kings Day and the Vampire Ball, Heidelberg has almost nothing to do with these until Fat Tuesday, which is why it's confusing to keep track of. It lumps the season into a day. That said, it's a fun event for the cold season whether you're alone and checking out the ornate regional costumes or becoming kids again with your friends and diving after candy, yelling Hal-lo, Hi-yo, Hel-lo, or whatever it is everyone else is yelling, and washing it all down with a drink and some dancing.

Related Posts: Vampire Ball, Fasching 2005

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