Fasching in Germany

Rosenmontagsumzug-in-Köln

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  1. What is Fasching, Karneval, Fastnacht or Fastelabend? 

Pre-Lenten (Holy Week) festivities celebrated in grand style in mostly the predominantly catholic regions. It begins in most regions on November 11th, at 11:11 am.

  1. How did it start?

It stems from various beliefs:

  • For catholics, it provided a festive season of food and fun.
  • In pre-Christian times, it symbolized the driving out of winter and all of its evil spirits. Hence the masks to “scare” away these spirits.
  • Further, after the French Revolution, the French took over Rhineland. Out of protest, Germans from Cologne and surrounding areas would mock their politicians and leaders safely behind masks.

       3.   How is it celebrated?

  • Weiberfastnacht – The day begins with women storming into and symbolically taking over city hall. Then, women throughout the day will snip off men’s ties and kiss any man that passes their way. The day ends with people going to local venues and bars in costume.
  • Parties, Celebrations and Parades – People will celebrate in costume at various carnival community events and individual parties. Carnival parades abound, it is literally the weekend for people to live it up.
  • Rosenmontag – The largest and most popular carnival parades take place. People throughout the German-speaking countries will tune in to watch the biggest German carnival parade of all which is held in Cologne.
  • Fastnachtdienstag – Besides some parades which are held on this day, you have the burial or burning of the Nubbel. A Nubbel is a life size doll made of straw that embodies all of the sins committed during carnival season. It is buried or burned with great ceremony on Tuesday evening before everyone parties one more time.