Hellau and Alaaf, that is what I know to say during Carneval in Rheinland (depending if you are in Cologn or Düsseldorf, never mix it up!). But this year I learned something new. Narri, Narro! Gypsy! Witches! Those of you who are from the south of Germany may know it, but I, as a “Rheinish Girl”, know only carnival. Out-of-the-way fools dancing, bützen (kissing) and drinking too much (which I don’t do but is common during Carnival). This year, however, the weather was fine and I had finally the chance to see the local version of Carnival, Fastnacht or Fasenacht as it is called here.
I cannot and do not want to say much about the cultural background at this point, because that would be a bit too much for this blog post. Fastnacht, so say various sources (for example ARD), has its origins in the fact that perishable foods should be used before Lent. In the Swabian-Alemannic version, however, many also think the origin was rather to expell winter spirits. However, there is a great deal of evidence that there is indeed a Christian background to the festival. Presumably at the end, both camps are right again. That’s the story.
Unlike in the Rhineland, for example, there are no cars with political motives at the Alemannic carnival. In fact, there was only one car in the city, and it looked like a black Forest hut. Classical dance groups (called Garde) as I know from Düsseldorf or Cologne were very few. Mostly the groups consisted of witch groups. But there were also some chapels. Also different from the Carnival I know sweets (called Kamelle) was not in the foreground. Only very few sweets were thrown to the audience and there were no parents or grandparents who tried to catch the “Kamelle” with umbrellas.
We were really lucky and had great weather. It was not too cold when we went off and stayed beautiful all the time. Well, at least as long as the sun was hiogh in the sky. When the sun disappeared behind the houses it became colder. That’s why we went back home after about 70 groups.
Overall it was a nice carnival parade, but yet so different from than I would have expected. Much, much quieter, no drunks, hardly Kemelle. And yet everyone had a lot of fun. If you don’t know the Alemannic carnival, you should definitely see one of the parades!
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