Fasching in Weingarten

On Sunday we went into Weingarten, which is 2.5 miles (4 km) from Ravensburg, although as is common in the US the cities are pretty much conjoined by development. We were there for the big parade for the finale of Fasnet (also called Fashing and Fastnach I think). It's the typical 'big celebration before Ash Wednesday' that is common in many Christian cultures (e.g. Mardi Gras).

This was a huge parade, lasting almost three hours. It was easily the highlight of the trip for me. All the different costumes are amazing (and apparently very expensive, figures in the thousands were bandied around). They parade as groups through the streets. The groups usually have a theme, and almost everyone is wearing an elaborately carved mask. These masks were amazing.

Words really can't do it justice so I'm going to post a couple of videos.



These guys were a hoot. There was a good group of them.

Prominent citizens, presumably. They certainly look important.

The costumes and masks ranged from funny, to more frightening.

So many different varieties.

Each group would be based on a certain theme, but they were all subtly different, too. I'm sure if I knew German (or Swabian, more likely) folklore I would know who a lot of the costumes were supposed to represent. Some were obvious, like the wolves, one of my favorites.

A group of Plätzler. This was the most common costume type.



Ever heard of being run out of town on a rail? This is what it looks like, at least with the people doing it are very concerned for your safety.

The Viking Warchief. Obviously.

Here's a nice close-up of a mask. The masks were cool because with them and the mostly very elaborate costumes, you couldn't tell who was male and who female.
Many of the groups had a special call that they did, and you are supposed to call back a certain response. Helpfully, a list of all the calls and responses was in the program. This was great fun. There was an adult guy next to me there with his two young teenagers. He was loudly shouting back all the responses and I generally started following him. If you shouted back the response lustily enough, the marcher might treat you to a piece of candy. They also handed out candy to the many children there. But it wasn't all candy. The guy in front of me got a shot of something and later a small beer. Pretty cool. The high point for me was when one of the marchers beat me about the head with his bladder on a stick (which many of them had for this purpose, all real dried animal bladders from appearance). Obviously it doesn't hurt and anyway I had my new sweet Bavarian style hat on to protect me. He hit me with it, until my return call was loud enough for him, then he gave me a piece of candy and leaned in to say something. I managed to say "I don't speak German" in German, to which his reply was "Enjoy your holiday" in perfect English.

The parade was amazing and as I said the high point of the trip. More on Weingarten later.

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