Last Sunday I visited schwäbisch-alemannische Fastnacht in Hirschau, Baden-Württemberg. I found the carnival alluring and fascinating.
The carnival on the south of Germany is different from the one on the west. According to my German acquaintance, the carnival I saw is very traditional and has a long history. People say ‘farewell’ to winter and ‘hello’ to spring. The old, handmade masks, that the participants wear, symbolize evil creatures that are forced to leave with the end of the winter. You can see witches, devils, wild animals, and some other folklore creatures.
I would like to share my photos with you and comment on some things that I was surprised with:
It was pleasant to notice that parents took part in the carnival with their toddlers:
Not often you can see parents and children wearing similar clothes.
The noise was overwhelming. Many participants of the show were wearing clothes with attached bells. The bells made the noise every time a person was walking. Several small orchestras took part in the carnival. Everyone around was loud. Laugh, screams, firecrackers! The carnival lasted for two hours. I was not prepared to see such a huge celebration in a tiny town.
Some carnival participants were drinking alcohol while parading. That was unexpected to me to see opened bottles of alcohol in their hands. I hope it kept them warm. 🙂
4. Narri-Narro! (In other regions Alaaf, Helau).
From time to time a carnival participant shouted: ‘Narri!’ and everyone around shouted back: ‘Narro!’. This is a traditional greeting during the carnival. Der Narr not only means ‘fool’ in German, but also a ‘carnival reveler.’
5. A bit of cruelty is fun?
Carnival revelers were a bit cruel to the public (in my view). They could hit you with a spruce branch (or was it some other type of tree?!), hit your head with balloons they had on a stick, pretend they give you a candy and then take it back (but of course, they played this trick on adults only. Children collected candies in their pockets easily). Other participants sprayed confetti, hay or sawdust on viewers’ hair. Watch out! They stamp your cheeks with a word Hexe and paint some stripes on your face with colorful pens. They put confetti under your jacket! They throw candies at you. They hug you, push you, scare you, and put you up in the air. They pull you away from your friends and throw you into their props (bed, guillotine, pot…) You may scream ‘no’. Nobody cares.
6. Scary costumes
Some of the costumes were really well made and scary. I do not wish to keep such a costume at home if I were German. Personally, I found the atmosphere of the carnival exotic. It was loud, frightening, fun, and German.
Here are more pictures: