Holly Crowe


Background Information

Fasching is a big Catholic celebration leading up to lent. It's also known as the fifth season (die fünfte Jahreszeitcomes) and it comes from the word Fastnacht, which means “eve of the beginning of the fast.”. Fasching or Karnival is very similar to Mardi Gras in the USA. It begins on November 11th and lasts through Ash Wednesday.Most of the festivities however happen during the last few weeks before Ash Wednesday. Some activities that are present during Fasching include dancing, wearing of costumes, singing, contests, and drinking which happen during the foolish season. The term carnival(Karneval) has also been used to include local festivals, traveling circuses, and other celebrations, regardless of their purpose or their season.

One example of a wooden masks used for a parade.


Fasching began as a blend of pagan traditions with new Christian customs. In Germany, the tradition can be traced to medieval times where many countries existed under harsh rules. During Fasching time, the common people took a chance at 'living it up' and 'talking back to their rulers'. They would make a mock government of eleven people, as well as other officials. A price and princess were selected to rule the country during the Fasching season. Political authorities, high placed persons and sovereigns were the target of ridicule, and mockery. To avoid persecution and punishment, these antics were played out from behind masks and costumes so as to hide their identity. Parades, dancing in the streets, masquerade balls and comical skits filled the days and nights.

German citizens enjoy Fasching in their colorful costumes.


The biggest celebrations of Fasching happen in Köln, Düsseldorf and Mainz in Germany, but there are celebrations all over Germany, Austria, and other German speaking countries. Fasching is even celebrated in the United States in some German-American communities such as New Ulm, Minnesota.


Germans celebrating during Fasching.

The celebrations can occur at different times and vary from region to region. Fasching is a time of festivity and merry making. It's a time to break the rules, poke fun at those who make them and then to make your own new rules. The costumes today range from the traditional masks and fools, to pop culture references. Expensive hand-carved wood masks are often used. A lot of confetti is used during parades and celebrations.

The last Monday before ash Wednesday is the day for big procession. Cities host big parades on this day where there can be a total of more than 600,000 visitors. Ash Wednesday, the last day of Fasching is the day where the carnival groups start crying and washing their purses the crying represents the grief that this season is over now and washing the purses means that it cost a lot of money The day after fasching the die Fastenzeit starts.

Important Words

Fasching- carnival
Fastnacht- eve of the beginning of the fast
die närrische Saison- the silly/foolish season
die Fastenzeit- Lenten season
Karneval- Carnival

ger/101/2010/fall/holly_crowe.txt · Last modified: 2010/10/11 08:38 (external edit)
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