Fasching Festivities, German Style

For the ten years I called Heidelberg, Germany home, I was lucky to have a bird’s-eye view when Fasching festivities took the university town by storm, as I’m sure they did today.

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Fasching, Germany’s equivalent to Mardi Gras or Carnaval, includes pre-Lenten activities celebrated between Epiphany and Ash Wednesday. My former apartment, housed on the fifth floor of an 18th-century building, offered the perfect spot to glimpse the crazy characters and floats as they passed by during the city’s annual Fasching parade.

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The parades usually took place on days that I had to work. Alas, when I returned to my Altstadt (old town) neighborhood shortly after the parade had plowed through, I found the streets adorned with confetti, streamers, and wrappers that hinted at the goodies that had been tossed from floats. Some years, unable to resist being part of the fun, I took a vacation day and watched as men dressed in medieval garb twirled flags bearing Heidelberg’s crest, and fluffy blue beings powdered the noses of onlookers (yours truly included), and men sported Pippy Longstocking-esque braids. Here’s to more memories…

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Photography & text © Tricia A. Mitchell. All Rights Reserved.

Published by Tricia A. Mitchell

Tricia A. Mitchell is a freelance writer and photographer. Born in Europe but raised in the United States, she has lived in Valletta, Malta; Heidelberg, Germany; and Split, Croatia. An avid globetrotter who has visited more than 65 countries, she has a penchant for off-season travel. Tricia has learned that travel’s greatest gift is not sightseeing, rather it is the interactions with people. Some of her most memorable experiences have been sharing a bottle of champagne with distant French cousins in Lorraine, learning how to milk goats in a sleepy Bulgarian village, and ringing in the Vietnamese New Year with a Hanoi family. She welcomes any opportunity to practice French and German, and she loves delving into a place’s history and artisanal food scene. A former education administrator and training specialist, Tricia has a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a master’s degree in international relations. She and her husband, Shawn, married in the ruins of a snowy German castle. They’ve been known to escape winter by basing themselves in coastal Croatia or Southeast Asia. Her writing has appeared in Fodor’s Travel, Frommer’s, and International Living.

29 thoughts on “Fasching Festivities, German Style

  1. I really like the design of your blog, and love the header. Is this a new look? It’s very appealing…love it!

    Fasching looks like a great time. Wonderful pics!

    1. Hi Elisa, having devoted a bit of time tinkering with the design, your compliment means a lot. I guess you could call the re-design a premature spring cleaning of sorts, a desire to streamline things a bit, and fun with Photoshop. :)

      Fasching was always fun! This year, we celebrated Carnival in Croatia in a town decidedly smaller than Heidelberg, Germany, but nonetheless still with character.

      Thanks as always for dropping by.

    1. I never made it to the Black Forest during Fasching season, Andrew, but Cologne certainly offered a lot of fun madness. Where did you visit in the Black Forest? I used to live not far from there…

      1. We stayed one time in Baden-Baden and then twice in a nice hotel that I found in Rammersweier near Offenburg and we travelled as far south as Freiburg and as far north as Speyer.

      2. Many are familiar places to me, Andrew. In fact, my husband and I keep meaning to get back to Baden Baden, as we have a wedding gift certificate that we have yet to use there. I was only there once, but loved strolling the gardens. Such an elegant city!

    1. Thank you, Cornelia, or as they say here in Croatia, ‘hvala.’ :) When we do get back to Germany this summer, I look forward to exploring some of the places you’ve recommended – especially Mittenwald.

      1. Tricia, most probably I will be in germany too in the summer and of course spending some time in Garmisch to see my 101 years old aunt and my cousins. It will be some time in June, well maybe we cant meet somewhere around there. That would be fun.

  2. Heard so much about it, never been to one. Normally only the kids celebrated it at school. Now that they are no longer in German school, it sort of passed by unnoticed in our family. Thanks for sharing it…

  3. Wow this would be a sight to see! Here in PA, there is still a Fasnacht tradition, though the only evidence I’ve seen of it has been an overabundance of sugary donuts! I think it would be more fun if we had parades :)

    According to Wikipedia, the fasnacht donut was meant to empty the pantry of lard, sugar, fat, and butter before Lent begins, but somehow I doubt anyone around here actually follows that part of the tradition!

    Also, while you are a well established blogger and probably don’t need the awards, I wanted to let you know I nominated you for the Sisterhood of the World Blogger Award to share your excellent blog with others. In fact, the person who nominated me has an alliterative blog name, so yours was the first blog I thought to nominate!

    1. Jen, I enjoyed reading the details you shared about PA’s Fasnacht tradition. In Bavaria, where we were staying these past months, we had a lot of Krapfen sightings at the bakeries and grocery stores. Those sugary donuts looked so tasty, alas I only eat gluten-free goodies so I had to abstain. I suspect the PA tradition has the same origins?

      Finally, I’m very flattered by your very kind nomination and recognition, Jen! I shall look forward to connecting with the other nominees. :)

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