Posts Tagged ‘fasnacht’

You know it’s been a party when you find confetti here…

My iPhone Case

…and here…

When Jack recoiled from the water saying "Mummy...there's stuff floating in here...", I laughed thinking it was his own hamburger backwash...but no, it was confetti from two days earlier...

…and when you get home from a parade, vacuum, change pants, vacuum again, then get changed into pj’s that night only to find more confetti in your SECOND pair of pants…now where did that come from?!?


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When you think of the Swiss, you probably (and rightfully) think of perfectly smooth chocolate, efficient banking, and precision timekeepers.

And then, once per year, they go and do something that is so freakishly contrary to their image. This is Fasnacht, or simply, “Swiss Gone Wild”

No, it’s not this:

(for the record, although cows are docile, wonderful, and tasty creatures who provide us with wonderful things like milk, cheese, chocolate, and leather steering wheel covers, they can be quite dangerous when provoked)

So anyways, today marks the beginning of the festival that is dearest to Baslers – Fasnacht.

According to Wikipedia (and verified by interrogating my Swiss and German friends and co-workers):

“It remains unclear exactly why Carnival starts one week later in Basel than elsewhere in Switzerland or Germany.

The common explanation is that after the Reformation in 1520, Basel continued celebrating its Fasnacht, while the other regions officially stopped. It is said, that in order to differ from the Catholic customs, Fasnacht was scheduled one week later starting in 1529. There are no documents from this era supporting this theory, and the resolutions from 1529 were not quoted until 200 years later.

Historians note that the Catholic carnival date was rescheduled six days earlier in 1091 in the Council of Benevent, because the Sundays were excluded from the 40-day fasting period before Easter, making Ash Wednesday the first day of Lent. From then until the 16th century, the two carnival dates existed. The first one, ending on Ash Wednesday, was known as the Herren- or Pfaffenfasnacht (lords’ or priests’ carnival) and was observed by those members of the higher echelons of society. The second, one week later at the old time, was known as the Bauernfasnacht (farmers’ carnival). Afterwards, only this second carnival was celebrated in Basel.”

Basically, the Swiss (and Basel in particular) continue to give a big ‘eff you!’ to the Pope by celebrating Fasnacht after the start of Lent.

I like it already. The Swiss put the ‘protest’ in ‘protestant’.

When attending the street parade, or Cortège, you should have purchased (and be wearing!) one of these:

Or else a character (Waggis) who looks like this:

Will likely throw at you some of this:

(they also throw candy, oranges, bananas, toys, ladies underwear, carrots, and parsnips).

Sometimes they will just confetti bomb you for fun, after luring you close with the promise of a flower or treat.

We enjoyed listening to the Cliques as they marched with their flutes and drums.Very excellent skills. I was super impressed with the talent of the bands, as well as the amazing costumes and the sharp wit of the themes.

Oh yeah, you can forget about personal space, barriers, or any of that crap. There were two parades going around the city at the same time, on the same route, in opposite directions. We stood in the ‘island’ in the middle of the road, with marching bands and wagons of mad Waggis both in front and behind us. We were brushing shoulders with the drummers!

The costumes were a treat.

This year, the mad dictator Colonel Gaddafi was the prime target. I don’t blame them… the jackass filed a UN submission calling for the abolition of Switzerland after his jackass of a son was arrested here for beating his servants. For real?

So that’s a wrap.

…sort of. The festivities continue for three days. That’s right – three days. Members of the cliques will march through the old city, playing their drums and flutes all day long.

If you are ever going to visit Basel, do it in late February and enjoy Fasnacht.

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