Fasching: Germany’s Carnival

Fasching goes by many names: Fasnacht, Fassenacht, or Fasnet. But they all refer to the same carnival season that happens throughout Germany and a few surrounding countries. When I had first learned about Fasching, a friend described it to me as a mixture of Mardi Gras and Halloween. And now that I’ve attended my first Fasching parade she couldn’t have been more right.

Girls dressed in blue dancing in the Fasching parade.

The Fasching season begins on November 11, at 11 minutes after 11 am and lasts until Ash Wednesday, the following year. Many of the festivities start in January, but the majority of the parties and parades take place that final week surrounding Rosenmontag – or Rose Monday. The start of the carnival season came about from an old tradition called Fastelavend. It began with young men going door to door and collecting eggs, bacon, and sausages to eat later that same day at a large feast. As they collected the food, they wore masks and made loud noises, which then transformed over the years to today’s Fasching.

Circus float at the Fasching Parade.

The parade was full of creative floats and people dressed in costumes – even the majority of the crowd was decked out in costumes! The parade was approximately an hour long, and full of alcohol. I’m not joking when I tell you I saw several of the parade participants chugging a beer while they trekked along the street. Some of the floats are used as political statements, like this one below showing our new Commander in Chief wearing a Donald Duck hat.

Disney float making fun of President Trump at the Fasching Parade.

I don’t speak German, and I probably should have found one to ask, but I used a translator app and apparently this banner says, “What about the right-miracle house must remain outside.” Whatever that means. If you have any idea, please fill me in. Or please tell me what the literal translation is because I’m about 95% sure this is incorrect.

Fancy dressed women passing out champagne at the Fasching parade.

Throughout the parade, people were handing out shots to some of us standing in the crowd. They also threw candy in the air as they made their way down the street. All along the parade route there were little stands where you could buy some food or a grab a beer so you, too, could join in the drunken festivities. Once the parade ended, all the floats stopped at the end of the street and there were several different “music stops.” The rest of the night consisted of drinking, dancing, and partying it up, German style. We didn’t stay much longer after the parade ended because I had some homework to finish up. But we really enjoyed watching the parade, eating some good German food, and enjoying a few beers before heading home. We saw a lot of cool costumes and themes during the parade, but I think this final picture was my favorite. 😉

Women dressed as old maids pushing a washing machine float at the Fasching parade.

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Every country has their own cultural celebrations, and Germany is no different! Come see what we learned when we went to our very first Fasching Parade!