The Carnival Thread

Jan 3rd, 2008, 09:37 AM
  #1  
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The Carnival Thread

Since the Fifth Season is approaching, I think it's time to discuss Carnival. Most people know about Cologne and Venice, and that's it - but there is more, much more to discover about European carnival, and if someone is in the area by chance it would be a pity to miss it.
I suggest that we use this thread to discuss our experiences with the varieties of carnival in different parts of Europe. So please feel free to add yours!

OP first - Fastnacht in the South West of Germany (inside, gimme a minute)
quokka is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2008, 10:21 AM
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When talking about carnival in Germany, people think about the "big 3" on the Rhine - Köln, Düsseldorf and Mainz.
The Fastnacht in the South West (i. e. Black Forest, Schwaben, Bodensee), however, is much different from the silly and noisy carnival of the Rhine cities. Traditions are much older, in some towns masks and costumes have been the same for centuries. Fastnacht is the awakening of the dark powers - devils, ghosts, witches - before the beginning of the Lent, thus deeply connected to the catholic calendar (and not a remnant of pagan Germanic spring rituals, although people keep telling you that it is).
The Fastnacht guilds have one or a few figures that stay the same for years, decades, centuries. They don't change every year. Those costumes are hand-made, precious and beautiful to look at. There are a couple of places that keep centuries-old traditions alive, to be mentioned in this context are Rottweil, Oberndorf, Elzach, Überlingen and Villingen. On the other hand, there is a very lively, modern movement. New guilds are founded every year, new figures invented.

This year, the Carnival weekend is the first weekend of February due to the early Easter date. Monday Feb 4 is the big day.

Where to go to see it? I'm describing a few places I've visited myself. Of course, there are more.

Rottweil - the best known and most amazing among the traditional places. The costumes are just wonderful. Highly symbolic, so I'd recoemmend reading about it a little to understand what the pictures, gestures, songs etc. are about.
The main event is the parade ("Narrensprung") on Monday morning, 8 a.m. - staying overnight is inevitable, book well in advance. The town will be overcrowded. But here's quokka's hint: There is another parade on Tuesday morning 8 a.m., which is just like the one on Monday. So go there on Tuesday when there are no tour buses and accommodation is much easier to get. Since on Tuesday there is a second parade at 2 p.m., Tuesday is even better than Monday.
Link: http://www.narrenzunft.rottweil.de/ (click "Narrenkleider" for some photos)

Villingen (Villingen-Schwenningen) - another very traditional place, the guild was founded in the 16th century. Again, Monday is the big day, the main parade begins at 9 a.m., and then the town will be busy all day long.
Link: http://www.narrozunft.de/ (click "Bilder", then "Bilder von der Fasnet 2007" for some photos)

Elzach - again traditional, but less harmless! The Schuttigs use pig's bladders to hit a) the ground because of the noise and b) the spectators. So don't wear your best clothes.
Main day: Sunday. The afternoon parade begins at 3 p.m. Even more impressive is the night parade at 8 p.m. on Sunday when all the lights of the town are turned off and they come with torches.
Elzach can easily be reached by train (Breisgau S-Bahn) from Freiburg. Do not go by car - there is but one road along the valley, which will be jam-packed, and you'll have to park on the outskirts while the train takes you right into town.
Link: http://www.elzach.de/fasnet/fasnet.html

Freiburg - the best place to see a wide variety of figures and groups. There are 35 guilds in Freiburg itself, and they invite others from all over Baden-Württemberg for the big parade on Monday, 2 p.m.
Pictures: http://www.breisgauer-narrenzunft.de...mid=53&catid=8 (if the link doesn't work, try http://www.breisgauer-narrenzunft.de/ and click "Bilder".) Freiburg can easily be combined with Elzach.
quokka is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2008, 10:36 AM
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I stumbled onto Carnival in Athens three years ago. People wander around in the streets in costume and hit each other with plastic bats and hammers. My college-aged daughter was shocked when a ten year old boy swatted her on the rear end.

The next day is Clean Monday, when everybody goes out to the countryside and flies kites.
Nikki is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2008, 11:27 AM
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Carnival is BIG in the southern Netherlands - Den Bosch and Maastricht in particular but also most other towns and villages. Even in my hometown, in the centre, because it is a "Catholic village", Carnival is celebrated, and a nearby town (Hoogland) has one of the biggest parades.
Everyone who takes part has been busy since last Carnival with designing and building their floats for the parade. All very top secret, so that no one sees them ahead of time.
In our town there is the guild, the old one - you have to have been born here as does your father, for you to qualify for membership, and several carnival societies, which just say you must live in the town to join.
The towns and cities all take on a different name for the Carnival period eg Kabbelgat (Delft), Oeteldonk (den Bosch), Meestrech (Maastricht).
In my town the Carnaval Prince (or Princess) is chosen during the summer at the Gildefeest, and is crowned on 11 November at 11 am.
hetismij is offline  
Mar 7th, 2008, 07:19 PM
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I've been to Carnival in Venice, Rio and Trinidad. Each one has been very different and wonderful. Venice was, by far, the most sedate. I believe that at least some of the costumed people walking around are actually hired by the government to do so. Rio was quite a spectacle on the streets and in the Sambadrome. Trinidad was the most participatory, warm and fun; the people attempt to have the visitors as involved as possible. On of the highlights is a Saturday kids parade. Try not to miss a day of it.
I am going to start a new thread about Madeira and hope that some of you are officianados about Carnaval there, as well.
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