German Karneval & Fasching: The BIGGEST Party in Germany!
During the winter months, there is a tradition in Germany that dates back to the 16th century and is one of the oldest German customs. Centuries older than the celebration of Oktoberfest, and to most folk's surprise, much more popular! Today, many German’s carry on this long lived tradition with parades, parties and events that draw out millions of locals and visitors to the streets.
Here in Chicago we have a German Mardi Gras club, so I have had the pleasure of celebrating the Karneval season and Fasching for many years and it's always a blast. But what is it all about? What is Fasching? What is the celebration for? I found many of these answers on my friend Karen's blog, germangirlinamerica.com.
Here is what she says about Karneval:
What is Fasching aka Karneval?It is a time of feasting and frivolity, of parades and parties, of masks and costumes. It is a time of really cutting loose before the austerity of Lent. And it is a way to chase away winter demons.
When Does Fasching Start?While Fasching officially begins in many regions on November 11 at 11 minutes after 11 am, the celebrating generally starts on January 7, the day after Dreikoenigstag. Why is November 11 so important? After the French Revolution, the French under Napoleon took over part of the Rhineland. Their motto – “ Egalität, Legalität, Fraternität” (Equality, Liberty, Fraternity). Take the first letter of each word E, L, F and you have elf, the number 11.
Different names for the same celebration. What is Karneval/Fasching called in different areas of Germany?
Karneval in the “Rheinland” (Rhineland) area
Fastnacht around the city of Mainz (‘fasting night’, or eve of Lent, the period of fasting)
Fasnet in Swabia (south-west region of Germany) and in the southwest of the state of Bavaria
Fosnat in the Franken region (northern Bavaria)
Fasching around the city of “München” (Munich) and in Austria
Fasching Season GermanyRegardless of when Fasching or Karneval begins, the most of the celebrations take place during the week leading up to Ash Wednesday, and the beginning of Lent. (Remember… Lent is the 40 days BEFORE Easter, not counting Sunday…. And the date of Easter is always the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Vernal Equinox. In 2017 Easter Falls on April 16)
In America, the Mardi Gras in New Orleans in the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of Carnival season, but there are many Karneval or German Mardi Gras Societies here in the US! My sister and I dress up every year for the Fasching celebration here in Chicago and while we don't get to have a large parade in the streets, the evening of celebration is always a great time.
Photo of my sister and I from Fasching in Chicago 2016 (check out Monika's Vest ;-) Looks familiar?!)
Do you celebrate Karneval or Fasching in your city? Have you been to Germany during Karneval? I'd love to hear all about in the comments, so please do share!
Ever wonder which dirndl style you are? Click here to take our quiz and find out now!