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Viererbund

Four Guilds of Jester Nobility

Four of the five oldest, proudest and most traditional Narrenzünfte in Baden-Württemberg have associated in the 1950s and formed the so-called Viererbund, the Alliance of the Four.

The Viererbund members are: Rottweil, Elzach, Oberndorf, and Überlingen.

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The first association of Alemannic carnival guilds was founded in the 1920s with the purpose of cultivating local customs and fighting restrictions by the authorities. During the following decades more and more new carnival guilds were founded and accepted as members of the association. The historical guilds, however, objected aginst giving these new members the same rights and value. The conflict escalated in 1953 when Villingen, Überlingen and Elzach resigned, Oberndorf and Villingen followed a few years later.
While the Narrozunft Villingen has celebrated its own Fasnet alone ever since, the other four have allied and founded the Viererbund in 1963.

These guilds aim at keeping their historical tradtitions pure and undisturbed. They are considered and consider themselves, half-seriously and half-jokingly, the jester nobility. All costumes and masks are checked and certified by the guild, no one is allowed to join the parade in a Häs that does not have the guild’s badge. Only a certain number of new participants is permitted per year. Members must be locals and capable of speaking the local dialect.
The result are the most elaborate costumes in the whole Alemannic Fastnacht and very special traditions.

Once in three or four years these four guilds hold a big meeting, called Narrentag. Otherwise they won't go anywhere and won't allow any other guilds to join their parades and other events. Since the most recent Narrentag has just taken place in Januar 2017 (in Rottweil – I sadly missed it because I was down with flu), the next one won’t be before 2020 or 2021. A date has not yet been announced. According to the order of the list, it will be Überlingen’s turn to host it.
On the one hand, A Narrentag parade is fascinating to watch because you get to see all four oft hem in one place. On the other hand, there is one problem that makes it less impressive than their home parades, as I noticed when I attended the Narrentag in Oberndorf in 2010. These jesters strongly depend on the interaction with the spectators. They need an audience who know the calls and responses, the chants and verses, the expected behaviour. It is like a board game with sophisticated rules that all participants have to know by heart. When the responding partner is missing, the game won‘t work too well.

Posted by Kathrin_E 02:23 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

Rottweil: The Capital of Alemannic Fastnacht

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If there's any alemannic Fastnacht that's widely known and even shown live on TV, it's the Narrensprung in Rottweil in the morning of carnival Monday. Rottweil's fame is justified. So far I have never seen more precious and elaborate masks and costumes anywhere else. In addition to the five main types of Narrenkleider (costumes, there are a couple of single figures and the remarkable groups with the horses (Brieler Rössle).

As soon as the bell on the black tower tolls eight, the Narrensprung parade starts. Spectators have to get up early. On Monday morning the town will be overrun by tour buses, accommodation has to be booked very very well in advance.
There is another Narrensprung on Tuesday morning (again 8.00) which is just like the one on Monday, and on Tuesday they're even doing another parade in the early afternoon (starting at 14.00). Hence my advice is: See Rottweil's Fastnacht on Tuesday instead of Monday. There are much less visitors in town, and accommodation from Monday to Tuesday is easier to get. I'd recommend staying overnight, being out and about in time and finding a good spot to watch by 7.30.
The jesters emerge from the gate of the Black Tower and parade down Hauptstraße, the main street. Beyond the main crossing the participants take different routes through the narrow back streets to Hochbrücke, the bridge southwest of the old town, where the parade is reformed. The second part leads through the Hochbrückstraße to Friedrichsplatz. If you stand in Hauptstraße, move and find a new spot for the second part as soon as the whole parade has passed, so you'll be able to see it twice.

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The five Rottweiler Narrekleidle. From left to right: Gschell, Schantle, Federalhannes, little Fransenkleidle, Biss, another Federahannes

The majority of jesters wears one of the five „Narrekleidle“. There are hundreds of examples of each type. The all follow the same rules, but since each of them is individually made, they are all different in details.

BISS: A wide mouth with bared teeth, big nose, cock feathers and a fox tail on the head, these are the characteristics of the Biss, which is mostly worn by men. Both Biss and Gschell carry heavy metal bells on leather belts round their body. The Biss also carries the leather „Narrenwurst“, a sausage-shaped utensil to tease spectators with.
The white clothing shows exquisite symbolic paintings. The themes of the pictures follow strict rules. For example, the headcover has to show portraits of Turks. The flowers, the personages, the ornaments etc. - everything has a deeper symbolic meaning.
Note the little rhombic mirror attached to the mask's temple. The mirror has long been associated with jesters: First, the jester is someone who looks at nothing but his own image and not at the Lord (theological interpretation). Second, the jester is the one who shows others their reflection in his mirror, i.e. tells them unpleasant truths.
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GSCHELL: The Gschell is a more feminine variety of the Biss and often worn by women and children. The painted pictures on the clothing show the same topics. Instead of the cock feathers the Biss has, three fox tails are attached to the head. Both Biss and Gschell carry bells on leather belts round their body.
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SCHANTLE: The Schantle are the well-behaved gentlemen and ladies among the jesters. According to the movements of many, this costume seems to be preferred by older people (just a guess). The elegant 19th century waistcoat and pants aren't complete without the parasol. Exquisite damascene or embroidered fabrics in subdued colours are used for the Schantle costume. Schantle, Gschell and Fransenkleidle carry baskets full of goodies. „Gutsle“ are given to everyone who is able to sing at least one of the traditional verses.
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FRANSENKLEIDLE: The Fransenkleidle wears a corduroy suit which is covered with colourful stripes made of short wool threads. The combination of colours seems to be personal choice since there are many different varieties. The general appearance is very baroque. This costume is often worn by women and children, even very little children who are just old enough to walk.
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FEDERAHANNES:
The Federahannes is the „naughty boy“ among Rottweil's jesters. The clothing is covered with white feathers, the mask shows protruding teeth and a rolled chin. The costume comes in either dark red, blue or green. He carries a metal pole to which a cow tail is attached at the top end. The pole serves for two purposes: teasing the spectators - no worries, the cow tail is clean and perfumed -, and performing the Narrensprung after which the whole parade was named. The technique of the jump is more or less the same as pole vault: Pole on the ground, jump and throw feet up in the air.
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Then there are a number of other figures which have their place at the beginning of the parade. The first to emerge from the gate are the BAJASSE, children in yellow and black harlequin costumes. LANDSKNECHTE (Lansquenets) on horseback and on foot keep everything in order. The bands are also dressed as lansquenets. This is a reference to Rottweil’s status as free imeprial city. LANGER MANN (Long Man) walks with the second group of Bajasse. He is tall enough to look into the windows of the first floor. I haven't exactly figured out the construction but it looks as if there is one person walking underneath who holds a long pole with the head on top.
The NARRENENGEL (jester angel), another singular figure, is not actually an angel. He recalls a religious brotherhood, the Engelsgesellschaft (angel society), of wandering artisans who traditionally took an important part in the carnival celebrations in former times. The Narrenengel carries a plate with the city's coat of arms and the inscription: „Niemand zu Leid, jedem zur Freud“ (To no one's harm, to everyone's joy) - the motto of Rottweil's Fastnacht.
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GULLER, the cock rider, is another singular figure. Like the Rössle he is a fake rider, the person is walking on his own feet. The Guller hides in the crowd of the jesters and appears all of a sudden to tease the female spectators. The cock is a symbol of sexuality. That's how this figure is meant to be understood. Look at the lecherous expression of the mask...
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BRIELER RÖSSLE are my favourite figures in the parades. They always come in groups of three: one horse rider led by two drovers with whips, which they use excessively to hit the feathers on the rider's head. Each rider carries at least one spare set of feathers to substitute them if necessary.
Luckily the rider doesn't have a real horse! He has to walk on his own two legs. The „horse“ is just a construction that the „rider“ carries round his body. There are six or seven Rössle groups at the beginning and the end of the parade. The horses' heads are tiny and look a bit misshaped, but if they were bigger they would get caught in the ropes all the time.
All the riders' masks have this strange gaze. While in all other masks the complete eye is open, the riders' masks only have small pupil-like holes to protect the person's eyes from the whipcords. The riders' eyesight is extremely limited through these masks, they are almost blindfolded. Because of that each of them is lead on two ropes.
Between the parades the Rössle groups visit the town's butcher shops. There they are given sausages, which are tied to the horse's harness. Luckily horses are vegetarians...
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Heischeverse: Verses to sing
The jesters are generously distributing sweets - but not entirely for free. If you want some you have to sing a verse in Swabian which makes more or less sense, but don't worry about that... The most popular ones are these two:

Narro, kugelrund,
d' Stadtleut' sind wieder alli g'sund

(Jester, round as a ball,
people in town are all healthy again.)

Narro, siebe Sii,
siebe Sii sind Narro g'sii.

(Jester, seven sons,
seven sons have been jesters.)

The melody, the same for both, consists of no more than three notes, you'll pick it up easily. Warning: If a jester wants you to sing, you will. They insist and you won't get rid of them. They stand in front of you and conduct with one hand or the leather Narrenwurst (sausage) many of them carry. Just try. In emergency, a la-la-la is better than nothing. Children get thrown a handful of sweets from the basket as a reward for singing. Adults, however, will, after a solo performance, be offered the little box which contains pralines, chocolate and other finer stuff. If this happens, pick ONE piece, and feel honoured.

After the parades the jesters wander around for the Aufsagen - telling the past years' news and complaints to anyone who wants to, or is forced to, listen. Most of them make an album with drawings and paintings to illustrate the stories they want to share. Hidden underneath mask and Narrenkleid one can say everything. Of course they pick their listeners carefully if they have the chance. The town's mayor, for example, will learn a lot these days...
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Posted by Kathrin_E 04:22 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

Elzach: Beware of the Schuttig

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The small town of Elzach at the far end of the Elz valley is famous for its ancient carnival traditions. Here you can watch the alemannic Fastnacht at its best, and scariest. Elzach is one of the most traditional centres of the alemannic Fastnacht and member of the Viererbund. Two types of costumes are all the guild allows: the Schuttig and the Rägemolli, plus a number of singular figures. Officially only males are allowed to participate.

Fastnacht in Elzach begins on carnival Sunday at noon. A big parade takes place on Sunday afternoon (15.00), then there is the night parade (Sunday 20.00). Another parade happens on Tuesday afternoon (15.00). All parades start at Ladhof, east of the town centre, and leads along the main road to close to the train station and the same way back again, so you can watch them twice. If you want a good spot for taking photos be there at least half an hour earlier.
The Sunday night parade, which begins at 8 p.m. on Carnival Sunday, is the most impressive event of the whole Fasnet. All lights in town are turned out. The Schuttigs parade the dark streets with torches, which give a dramatic effect. The masks never look scarier. Highly recommended!

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The main figure in the Fastnacht of Elzach is the Schuttig. The red fringy Häs is worn with a green headcover, a triangular straw hat covered with snail shells and three red woollen balls, wood-carved mask, white scarf and gloves. Most Schuttigs carry Saublodere: a stick with two or three inflates pig's bladders (indeed, real ones). These serve for two purposes: 1. hitting the ground to make noise, and 2. hitting people, preferably on the head. Yes it hurts, and yes it's a tiny little bit disgusting, especially in the rain when they become wet, smeary and stinky...

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The second typical Häs in Elzach, less frequent than the Schuttig, is the Rägemolli. The name derives from „Regenmolch“, a local name for the fire salamander, because of the black dots. The corners of the hat have paper palls instead of wool, the headcover and scarf may have different colours. The front side of the jacket is painted with a moon, a bat and an owl while the back shows the sun. Many Rägemollis carry a broomstick to tease people with.

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Elzach’s jesters never takes off their mask in public. All masks are individually made to measure, carved from linden wood. Eight different types of masks offer a wide variety:
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All parades follow the same pattern. The black Teufelschuttig (Devil Schuttig), a singular figure, leads the parade. His Häs is basically the same as that of the Schuttigs but all in black with red gloves and scarf. The wooden trident is the devil's 'weapon'. There is a lot of running at the beginning of the parade. The kids will tease the devil and provoke him to chase them with his trident.

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The Night Watchman and his Wife, who is always impersonated by a man, have an important role in the guild's internal meetings (which visitors won't be able to see). They walk at the front of the parade, followed by the Taganrufer (morning callers) whose duty is waking the town on Monday morning at 5.00. Then comes the brass band of the Stadtmusik in their pointed hats, who are playing one single piece, the Schuttig march, over and over again.

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Schuttigs and Rägemollis come in all sizes. For the young members of the jester guild in Elzach the Fasnet begins already on Thursday with the children's parade. Hundreds of little Schuttigs and Rägemollis parade the streets of the town. On Friday and Saturday you'll see kid-size Schuttigs in the streets, but no adult is allowed to wear the Häs before Sunday at noon.
The kids' Häs is the same as that of the adults. Very young kids will perhaps not yet wear the snail hat, only mask and headcover. Even infants are taken to the parades in decorated prams, usually in a Häs, some with, some without masks. The youngsters join the afternoon parades on Sunday and Tuesday, but they are not allowed in the night parade. Since these parades are a big mess - the adult Schuttigs run, dance, beat the pavement with the Saublodere etc. - small kids are kept safely at Daddys hand as not to be run over. Older kids may go on their own. The safest spot for the youngest participants is on the kids' truck which runs at the end of the parade. These mini Schuttigs up there are about 3 to 5 or 6 years old.

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Elzach can easily be visited from Freiburg. Hint: Don't go by car, there is but one road along the valley which will be jampacked, and parking won't be found in the town centre, you'll have to park on the outskirts and walk quite a bit. Take the train (Breisgau S-Bahn). In case you come to see the night parade, though, you’ll have to hurry afterwards because the last S-Bahn towards Freiburg departs shortly after 22.00.

Posted by Kathrin_E 10:29 Archived in Germany Tagged elzach alemannic_fastnacht Comments (0)

Überlingen: Hänsele Dance and Whip Cracking

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Überlingen is one of the centres of the Alemannic Fastnacht, the regional variety of carnival. These activities date back to the 15th century. Carnival feasts were first mentioned in 1474, in 1496 the city council published a law that ruled customs like wearing devil costumes or receiving the carnival cakes. The carnival guild (Hänselezunft) is proud of its tradition, which is one of the oldest in Baden-Württemberg. Überlingen is a member of the Viererbund.

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The mandatory costume („Häs“) of the guild is the Hänsele. A white overall is covered with rows of black fringes, every third or fourth row in the sequel of colours red-green-yellow-blue. The Hänsele does not wear a wooden mask like most other Alemannic carnival types but a mask and hat made of the same material as the clothing, with a long trunk-like nose ending in a tassel. The fox tail at the back of the head and the white handkerchief at the front are as essential as the long whip, the „Karbatsche“. A white shirt and black tie, black shoes and black socks are required to be worn underneath the Häs. No white socks please!!!

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The Karbatsche is a whip that consists of a very short handle and a rope up to 5 metres long. It is used to perform and to create noise, but never to hit people. Creating loud and rhythmic cracks requires both physical strength and technique. The boys in Überlingen learn the use of the Karbatsche from a quite young age, the guild even organizes lessons.

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In the afternoon of carnival Saturday the kids are having a competition, which takes place in Hofstatt square (Sat 14.00) and is fun to watch. The youngest participants are five years old, the oldest 18 - of course they compete in different age groups. The kids do not yet have the easiness, elegance and power of the grown-up masters, but they prove that they have practised well. The strict judges give points for the technique, loud and regular cracks, the position - both feet have to stay on the ground in the same spot. The correctness of the Häs is also taken into consideration. Points are taken for white socks instead of black ones, shoes in other colours than black, a missing white handkerchief etc. Changing the whip from the right to the left hand and back gives bonus points.

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Saturday (20.00) is the big night when the „Hänselejuck“, the night parade of the Hänsele guild, takes place in town. The Hänsele parade through the streets at night. Red bengal fires illuminate the old town. The parade begins near the train station and then leads through the old town. The Stadtmusik band plays the traditional marches and waltzes. Ladies, you may even be invited to dance with a Hänsele.
The Saturday night parade ends in the square named Hofstatt, just below the town hall, with music and a lot of whip-cracking. As soon as there is enough space the Hänsele will have their whips out. The bands are playing, and even the Parents of the Guild will dare a little waltz.

A second parade takes place on Sunday afternoon (14.30). This time it's not only the Hänsele guild but also other guilds and groups from in and around Überlingen. In addition to the alemannic guilds in their Häs, small groups dress up and make fun of current events, politics, society in town.

The two most important personalities in the Hänselezunft are the Parents of the guild (Narreneltern). Both are elegantly dressed, the Mother in a long 19th century dress and golden bonnet, the Father with a high hat and tail coat. During the Sunday parade they ride in a horse-drawn carriage. The Mother is always impersonated by a man.

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Not only the Mother: All Hänsele are males. Girls and women are not allowed to become members and wear the Hänselehäs. The legend tells that some girls who tried were thrown into the fountain - in their clothes if they were lucky.

The women of Überlingen found a solution to this problem. Women have long organized their own carnival events. In 1995 two sisters founded the Guild of the Lions (Löwenzunft) and created a new Häs, which derives from the red lion in the town's coat of arms. The Lionesses, who are all impersonated by females, have since then become a regular part of the Sunday parade. The young girls in the Löwenzunft do not yet wear the wooden mask, instead they have their faces painted individually. IMHO they're even prettier than the adults.

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Posted by Kathrin_E 11:13 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

Oberndorf: The Most Nourishing Parade

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Oberndorf is a small town in the upper Neckar valley, situated between Horb and Rottweil, which is known for two things: the gun factory Mauser, and its Fastnacht (carnival) traditions. I have to admit that I have been looking hard for further beauties worth mentioning, but without much success. Since I don't feel much inclination to write about a gun factory, I'd like to present the carnival! Find out more about Hansel, Narro and Schantle, the Schantle band and the Jester Policeman, and the catching of sausages.

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A bit of Oberndorf's traditional Fastnacht stays visible all year round. the jester fountain in market square. The bronze statues depict (from left to right in the photo). Schantle, Narrenpolizist, Hansel and Narro.

Oberndorf is another of the traditional centres of carnival (Fastnacht) in the South West of Germany and member of the Viererbund. Fastnacht is short here, activities last from Monday afternoon to Tuesday night. The big day in Oberndorf is carnival Tuesday, the main parade begins at 8.30. The uphill part of the town is the centre. Since the town is small, the parade does the round twice before going downhill and ending in front of the Augustine church.

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The Rössle - horses and riders - are the first at the parade. Their task is pushing back the crowds and creating enough space for the following parade. They'll trot slowly along the edges of the street, uttering snorts and whinnies. Watch carefully - the 'horses' have only two legs, and the 'rider's' legs are fake... Guess who is doing the horse sounds...

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The first group in the parade after the leading band are the Hansels. The Hansel isn't complete without the red umbrella. The baskets contain sweets and oranges. Adults wear wooden masks, children have their faces painted instead. Hansel and Narro are jumping to the rhythm of the march to make their bells sound.

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The Narro wears the painted white Häs that is typical for many places between Eastern Black Forest and Neckar and can also be seen in Villingen and Rottweil. The bells he carries are not unusual either. The Oberndorfer Hansel's speciality and trademark, however, is the stick holding dozens of pretzels. Spectators are well fed. Halfway along the parade the sticks will need refilling.

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A Schantle is, in the old meaning of the word, a cloddish, rough and ready guy. While the Schantles in nearby Rottweil have been transformed into dignified, elegant bourgeois, those in Oberndorf still show the original idea. The Schantle wears a suit of rough cloth covered with multi-coloured rings and circles. He is walking slowly, often limping. Unlike Hansel and Narro masks which are rather standardised, the Schantle masks are individual faces. All have a big nose with warts. The baskets contain oranges, red and black sausages. The Schantles are my favourites among Oberndorf's Fastnacht characters. Aren't they funny and cute?

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A rare special mask type worn by Schantles is the Heulerle - the cryer. There may be three or four of them among the whole mass of Schantles in the parade, so watch out for them. The face is in (carved and painted) tears, the handkerchief always ready.
One Schantle in the parade wears this very old and dark mask, the Drecklärvle („dirt mask“). This is an individual historical piece, no one knows exactly how old it is. Watch out for it! I made it to catch him with my camera, and even better - he (I suppose) spotted me taking the photo and gave me a sausage!

The Fastnacht parade in Oberndorf is very nourishing for the spectators. No need to buy lunch afterwards. It's mostly the Schantles who distribute sausages, red and black.

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Etiquette: The sausage will either be stuffed into your mouth by the Schantle, or it is tied to a string like a fishing rod and you have to catch it. With your mouth. Using your hands is forbidden. When you've caught it it's yours. - No worries about hygiene - there is a new and fresh sausage for each person. No one else will bite it before or after you. The Schantle will wait until you catch it.

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Hansel and Schantle traditionally distribute, apart from sausages and sweets, oranges. Why oranges? The orange cannot be called a traditional fruit of the Neckar valley?!
We have to look back into Oberndorf's industrial history to understand. The town is home of the Mauser gun factory, which was extremely successful in the late 19th century due to a new technology they developed. One of their best clients was the Turkish army. Since the Turks had special wishes, a Turkish delegation was almost constantly present at the factory - and in town. These Turkish people became popular and friendly with the locals, so they were allowed to join the carnival parade on a carriage of their own. They ordered a load of oranges from home, dressed up and threw those oranges to the spectators. Oberndorf's jester guild
then adopted this idea and made it a local custom.

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Since carnival is a serious matter and needs law and order, the Fastnacht guild have their own policeman. Only one, though! The Narrenpolizist walks at the very end of the parade and makes lingering Schantles hurry up with his sabre. His uniform adopts, and makes fun of, the uniforms of baroque authorities.

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The Schantle band is marching at the end of the parade: They are playing accordions, drums and percussion, and some weird home-made instruments. After the parade, the Schantle band will be touring the pubs and cafes of the town. They'll play inside and receive food and drink in return. A good chance to enjoy them once more, if you're lucky to be in the right pub at the right time.

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Everything has to be earned. If you want a pretzel, orange or sausage or some sweets, the jesters will want you wither to sing the Narro march or recite one of several complicated verses in Swabian dialect. Try - they'll help, and it doesn't have to be perfect...

The Narro march goes like this (you'll pick up the melody quickly):
Oh jerum, oh jerum, die Fasnet hett a Loch,
Oh jerum, oh jerum, die Fasnet hett a Loch,
Hab kei Kreuzer Geld im Sack
Für e Päckle Rauchtabak,
Oh jerum, oh jerum, die Fasnet hett a Loch.

Oh yerum, oh yerum, the carnival has got a hole,
Oh yerum, oh yerum, the carnival has got a hole,
I don't have a penny in my pocket
For a pack of smoking tobacco,
Oh yerum, oh yerum, the carnival has got a hole.
(Doesn't make much sense, but who cares?)

Of the verses I know only one, thanks to a persistent Narro who taught it to me:
In der vordere Gass, in de hinnere Gass,
da wohnt e alde Beck.
Der streckt sei Arsch zum Fenster raus,
Mer maant, 's isch e Weck.
'S isch kaa Weck, 's isch kaa Weck,
's isch de Arsch vom Richter Beck.

In the front street, in the back street,
lives an old baker.
He sticks his a** out of the window,
You'd think it was a roll.
It is no roll, it is no roll,
It is the a** of baker Richter.
(Probably a verse mocking a - formerly - well-known unpopular personality in town.)
Swabians, feel free to correct my orthography!

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Posted by Kathrin_E 13:27 Archived in Germany Tagged alemannic_fastnacht Comments (0)

Villingen: One of the Oldest, and Unique

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The Narrozunft (carnival guild) in Villingen dates its foundation to the year 1584. This makes Villingen one of the traditional centres of the alemannic Fastnacht or, in regional dialect, „Fasnet“. In addition to that there are several other younger guilds who are doing their separate events and parades. Through the High Days there is always something going on in town. The Villinger Fasnet is a not-to-be-missed occasion to visit this pretty old town and enjoy a very special experience.

Villingen is in fact one half of the community of Villingen-Schwenningen. In the 1970s the administration reform forced two towns with very different history - catholic Austrian Villingen and protestant Württembergish Schwenningen - to unite. Both sides weren't too happy about it... Villingen is certainly the prettier of the two. The old town of Villingen still shows the medieval ground plan with two wide market streets crossing. The town wall and three of the four gate towers are well preserved. The side streets show the typical South German stone houses.

In the 1950s the carnival guilds (Narrenzünfte) of Villingen and four other towns left the association of Swabian and Alemannic Fastnacht guilds because they did not approve the founding of more and more new guilds who claimed to be as historic and traditional as the old ones. Since then, the Narrozunft Villingen has restrained from all meetings and events outside town and has been doing 'its own thing' to keep the tradition alive and pure.

The Narrozunft Villingen knows four main types of jesters, two for males and two for females.

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The Narro wears a white painted Häs (clothing/costume) with a huge white collar, foulard and bow, and two by two leather belts with metal bells round his body. Don't underestimate the weight, the poor chap is carrying some 20-25 kgs. The wooden sabre serves as walking stick. The Narros sometimes move in a rhythmic hop to make the bells sound. In general, they move with the dignity of a well-off baroque citizen.
Two types of masks are to be distinguished: the smooth baroque faces (right) and the individual caricature-like old men's faces (left).

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The Morbili is a cute old lady in a 18th/19th century dress. The masks show individual old women's faces. Her handbag contains sweets, but you won't get any unless you shout a certain Swabian verse (which you'll learn quickly among the crowd):

Giizig, giizig, giizig isch das Mäschkerle,
und wenn es net so giizig wär,
so gäb' es glei e Malze her.
Giizig, giizig, giizig isch das Mäschkerle.
(Stingy, stingy, stingy is the mask,
and if she wasn't that stingy,
she'd give away a sweet.
Stingy, stingy, stingy is the mask.)

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The second female figure is the Altvillingerin. She wears traditional festive clothing of the late 18th century with a pretty golden bonnet. A few of them wear masks, but most don't. As you see, they come in all sizes. Even the babies in the prams are already dressed up.

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The Stachi is the second male figure. Instead of the white jacket he wears a blue shirt, and he doesn't have to shlep bells. The duster is used for, well, dusting the spectators - a harmless way of teasing. Many Stachis carry wooden Streckscheren (scissors) that extend over 2-3 metres. With these things they can grab the hats of unsuspecting spectators and put them onto someone else's head...

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The Narrenvater , the Father, or better call him president, of the Narrozunft, carries the guild's flag and is mounted on horseback. Otherwise his costume is a normal Narrohäs .

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The Butzesel (donkey; there are 3 or 4 of them) 'rides' a fir branch and is followed by a group of Stachis as drovers. Before and after the parades the Butzesel groups visit butcher's shops where they receive sausages. These sausages are then tied to the donkey's ears. The drovers take good care of him because if he manages to escape into a pub they have to pay his bill!

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„The most beautiful come last“: The Wuescht group walks at the end of the parade. Their Häs, usually an old worn-off one, is stuffed with straw so that they can hardly walk. The mask is not worn in the face but held in one hand. On their back they carry a wooden board. As long as they hold their broom upwards, kids may throw snowballs or pine cones (according to weather conditions) at them.
If the Narro is a caricature of the dignified upper-class citizen, the Wuescht is a caricature of the Narro. Fasnet is making fun of itself here.

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Narrentreiben is the term for the unorganized part of the Fasnet. After the parades you'll see the Narros and all the others walking the street, talking, resting, visiting pubs and so on. Stroll and explore the streets of Villingen between the parades. You'll find some good photo options and little scenes to catch. If you're lucky some of the masked jesters will even pose for your camera.

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What's going on in Villingen during the High Days? Here is a timetable of the main events.

Thursday
14.00 Children's parade
Thursday, Friday and Saturday night: different balls

Sunday
14.00 Reception of the Tomcat Miau by the Katzenmusik (Cat Musicians) guild at the Romäusturm
18.00 The Mayor hands over the town hall keys to the guild master. Fasnet rules!
19.00 Glonki guild searching for the Fasnet at the Bickentor

Monday
06.00 Waking the town
08.00 Parade of the Cat Musicians
09.00 Historical parade of the Narrozunft along Niedere Straße and Rietstraße
10.15 Parade of the Südtstadtclowns in Niedere Straße
14.15 Maschgerelauf: Parade of the Narrozunft along Obere Straße and Rietstraße
16.30 Parade of the Glonki guild

Tuesday
13.30 Big parade of all guilds
22.30 Catching the Tomcat Miau and returning him into Romäusturm
24.00 Burning of the straw from the pants of the Wuescht in Münster square
Try to get hold of the leaflet „Narrenfahrplan VS“ which contains all events in both Villingen and Schwenningen.

In addition to the Historical Narrozunft, several smaller jester guilds have been founded in the run of the 20th century. They all do their own little parades, so the ton is always busy during the High Days. On Tuesday afternoon they will all join the final big parade.

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The Glonki guild was founded in 1933. The founders decided on purpose to show their faces and create a Häs without a mask to distinguish themselves from the Narrozunft and the other guilds.
On Sunday evening on 7 p.m., the Glonki guild meets at the Bickentor, the medieval gate tower facing East, to search for the Fasnet. They run around with torches and look everywhere till finally the gate opens and „the Fasnet“, impersonated by their newest members, comes in. Drums and the brass band greet them. The following spectacle involves a lightshow, loud music, a speech from the tower's balcony, and fireworks. First-timers will quickly learn the Glonkis' salutation: „Rhabarber“ - „Ahoi“. Afterwards the guild marches to their 'headquarters' for the inofficial part, aka party at a pub.

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There is no sleeping in on Monday morning. The Cat Musicians and the bands of the Glonki guild will wake the town with loud noise at 6 a.m.
At 8 a.m. the Katzenmusik marches into town. The parade includes their leader the Tom Cat, Kater Miau , the general field marshal, the cat couple, Prince Carnival, little tomcat and little general, wagons, bands and several other groups. Shouting „Meow“ will earn you some sweets! The Cat Musicians then do another parade in the late morning, which is joined by several other groups, before they assemble in the square outside the Riettor at noon for their muster.

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The guild of the Rietvögel is based in the quarter around Rietgasse. You will recognize their territory from the decoration: clotheslines with all varieties of underwear and other white laundry across the streets.

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The Südstadtclowns (South town clowns) do their own little parade along Niedere Straße and Bickenstraße on Monday morning after the historical parade of the Narrozunft. They add quite some colour to Villingen's Fasnet... Their salutation is „Heidi“ - „Heida“

Posted by Kathrin_E 01:05 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

Schramberg, Bach-na-Fahre: Are They All Crazy???

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Yes, Schrambergers are all crazy, judging from the event this town is most famous for. Schramberg is The Hometown of Bach-na-Fahre.

Schramberg is an innocent-looking small town in the heart of the Black Forest. It is located inside a narrow valley with a little river named Schiltach. One branch of the river runs right through the centre of the town, and this stream, or canal, is the star of the show.
At Fastnacht Anno 1936 a bunch of people, in the morning after drinking all night, had a brilliant idea, one oft hat kind that you have after a long night and the consumption of large quantities of booze: Let’s go down the stream in a wooden tub. The many eye witnesses as well as the participants found this fun and entertaining, so it was repeated the following year, and the year after...

The crowd of the Bach-na-Fahrer grew larger and a tradition was born.

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This is one of the weirdest and funniest events to watch in the Alemannic Fastnacht. On Carnival Monday decorated wooden tubs, each manned (or womanned) with two captains, run down the Schiltach creek through the middle of the town. The course has a total length of some 500 metres, including several slides. The tubs have neither steering nor drive. They float with the current. Most have been turned into fantastic watercrafts - locomotives, bananas, hospital beds... - and everyone wonders: will they swim, or drown?

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Bach-na-Fahre is neither a race nor a competition. It is all about having fun and, if possible, arriving at the finish line, best with both captains on board their vessel. However, wading resp. swimming after it also counts. Most participants wear neoprene suits underneath their dress: Water temperature was 3.5 degrees this time. Firemen and THW guys are standing in the river bed to rescue drowning tub captains (rarely necessary as the water is hardly more than knee-deep) and help stubborn tubs onto the right course (frequently necessary at the slides, and tough work).

The base of the vessel is a wooden oval tub. These are provided by the Bach-na-Fahrer guild. A couple of weeks in advance the teams are assigned theirs. 40 teams are admitted. Then the craftwork begins. Everyone has his or her own tricks to make the construction swim. They can only hope, testing the tubs in advance is impossible.

The teams are free to choose a topic; the only rule is: no obscenities. Some transport a political message or deal with local affairs, others refer to anniversaries or are just funny and entertaining. From banana split to Brandenburg Gate, from Oktoberfest to hospital beds, anything goes. Locomotives were particularly popular this year.

On the way to the start the decorated tubs parade through the town from around 10:30 onwards. They then assemble at the bus station at Neue Brücke, which serves as paddock. This is a great opportunity to admire them from close by - and still intact. After the run down the creek most of them won't look that good any more. From here the tubs are carried, or rather dragged and pushed, down to the river one by one to the start.

Tub parade photo gallery
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The event begins on Carnival Monday at 13:00. The canal is narrow and built-in between houses, so there are not enough good viewing points for the gathering crowds. If you want a good place, perhaps even on one of the bridges, start looking for one no later than 11:30 and occupy it. Yes this is early, but at 12:00 you will no longer have a chance for a place with a good view.

Spectators ought to know the three salutations that are shouted at the top of everyone’s voice. As usual, they consist of a call and an answer. The first is ubiquitous, the other two refer to the state of the passing tub team.

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1. „Kanal - voll“ („Canal - full“) refers, of course, to the river and not to the state of captains or spectators. (In German, having the „canal full“ can also mean being very very drunk.)
2. „Furz - trocka“ („Fart - dry“). For tub captains who have so far avoided close contact with the Schiltach.
3. Batsch - nass“ („Dripping - wet“). Part of the fun, especially for the spectators. The photos show what that means...

Bach-na-Fahre Photo Gallery
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On the day of the Bach-na-Fahre, the local jester guild are doing a parade in town afterwards. The parade begins at 15:00 on Carnival Monday, about 45 minutes after the end of the event on the river. Hardly enough time to grab a bite or a drink at some stall and find a good position in the main street. Apart from Schramberg's local guild (Narrenzunft), the participants are guilds from the villages in the wider surroundings of the town. As usual, beware of the witches... although, come to think of it, one witch provided me with a cup of hot mulled wine which was more than welcome!

Schramberg is located in the Swabian part of the Black Forest. The costumes worn by the local jesters resemble those of the traditional guilds further east towards the Neckar valley. The Narro with a stick full of Brezeln is related to the ones in Oberndorf. The white, painted Häs is worn in many places along the Neckar and in the eastern Black Forest, like Villingen, Rottweil and again Oberndorf.
Jester types are:
- the Narro in white painted Häs and a mask with devil's horns
- the Hansel who distributes pretzels to those who can say a verse
- the Bach-na-Fahrer
- the Brüele who is the Sad Clown, a crying jester
Two individual figures:
- the jester bailiff. This mask recalls the face of the last real bailiff in town, who had a little vegetable shop for some additional income and was nicknamed „Endivienbutz“ („endive bailiff“) in town.
- the Kehraus („Cleanup“) who carries a big broom and sweeps the winter away. This figure was created in the 1920s when the Fastnacht was believed to be an ancient pagan rite to drive winter away. Historical research proved this opinion wrong but the figure stayed.

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The jester guild created a Häs for the Bach-na-Fahrer. A group of them, not necessarily the same people who actually ride the tubs down the Schiltach but also children among them, is part of any parade. The Häs recalls the clothing of the rafters on the creeks and rivers. It was designed already in 1939, three years after the first Bach-na-Fahrt. It consists of a blue work shirt, black pants and boots, a laughing mask and a long-haired wig under a black pointed cap. The first and the last tub on the Schiltach are undecorated and ridden by a guy in this Häs. For the parade, tub and captain are transported by a tractor. The walking Bach-na-Fahrer carry a bottomless wooden tub around their waist.

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The tub is inscribed with the refrain of the jester march. This verse is to be shouted by the spectators to receive goodies.

The verse in Swabian:
Dr Bach na, dr Bach na,
mit Kummer un mit Sorga,
bis am Asch-, bis am Asch-
Aschermittwochmorga!

English translation:
Down the river, down the river,
with sorrow and with care,
until Ash, until Ash,
until Ash Wednesday morning!

Afternoon parade photo gallery
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FluffyMonster.jpg I am cute and I know it!

Posted by Kathrin_E 05:09 Archived in Germany Comments (1)

Gengenbach: Witches, Spättlehansel, Klepperle and Lumbehund

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Gengenbach's carnival called „Fasend“, not „Fasnet“ as in most of the Black Forest and beyond. Tradition dates back to an event of the year 1499, when some citizens of the town decorated a big rabble as the first jester tree and did a noisy run through the streets. Persecuted by the magistrate who wanted to imprison them, they fled across the border into the territory of the abbey. The abbot showed more understanding for carnival fun and obtained an amnesty. That was the beginning of the street carnival in Gengenbach.

The history of the present Fasend, however, begins with the foundation of the first carnival club in 1890 and the foundation of the jester guild in 1925. The main figures, the witch and the Spättlehansel, were designed only in the 1930's.

The Fasend begins three and a half weeks prior to Ash Wednesday when a large crowd in Hemdglunker (white nightshirts), equipped with drums and brass instruments and everything that makes noise, assembles outside Niggelturm to awaken the Schalk, the symbolic figure of Gengenbach's Fasend, who is sleeping in the tower during the rest of the year. When he finally wakes up, he is accompanied to the town hall where he takes the keys and the government. The following weekends see some indoor events until the High Days begin.
On the eve of Fasend (Wednesday before Greasy Thursday) the witches set up a giant broom stick and the Spättle a giant rabble in front of the town hall. All streets and all pubs are busy. In the evening, masked groups are around in the pubs to tell the news of the year and mock people.
The event which is of most interest to visitors is the main parade on Sunday, starting 2 p.m. The best spot to watch it is surely the main square by the town hall - come early because it will be crowded. Gengenbach is small, so they do the round twice. In addition to the members of the guild in ther traditional Häs there are the guilds from the small villages around participating, also one or more guest guilds from another town, and clubs, companies and groups from Gengenbach and around with big carts and imaginative costumes.

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Schalk is the character who symbolizes the carnival of Gengenbach. His home is Niggelturm, one of the towers of the fortification, where he sleeps all year until he is awakened three weeks before the High Days to start the carnival season. There is no Fasend without him. His costume is that of an old court jester, Till-Eulenspiegel-type, in dark red. His equipment consists of a lantern and a Marotte, a sceptre with miniature masks of witch and Spättlehansel. He takes a leading role in the guild's events and marches at the beginning of the parades. In the evening of Shrove Tuesday, just before midnight, he is once more banned into Niggelturm and goes to sleep for 11 months until the next Fasend begins.

Bott is the city bailiff. Originally the one who was to persecute and arrest the misbehaved jesters in the event of 1499, he has been adopted by the guild as part of their staff. He is the moderator during the guild evenings and leads the parades together with the Schalk.

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The witch is not, as many may think, a traditional figure in the Alemannic Fastnacht. The first witch mask and costume appeared only in 1933 in Offenburg. Shortly after, Gengenbach got a witch figure, too. Together with the Spättlehansel the witch is the main Häs of the jester guild. All witches must be men. They are always good for some fun...
The Gengenbacher witch mask has a rather smooth face compared to most other witch types, and a flat headscarf without any wooden structures underneath. So they are quite easy to recognize. They can often be met outside Gengenbach at jester meetings or on parades on Carnival Monday when they have no event at home.

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Spättlehansel is a Häs for women and men. It is made from hundreds of U-shaped pieces of fabric (Spättle) in all colours and patterns sewn on an overall like roof tiles. The wooden mask is a laughing face. Small children wear the Häs withour mask. Despite the friendly look, however, the Spättlehansel are not entriely harmless. They tease spectatours with extending scissors, which are great for grabbing hats and caps, or with Saublodere (pig bladders).

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Klepperle area typical tradition in Gengenbach: Small flat pieces of wood, a pair per hand, are clattered in a certain rhythm. Operating them requires light-fingeredness and most of all practice, practice, practice, but about every kid in town and every adult who grew up in Gengenbach is capable of this. It is an activity for children and teenagers, at the age of 18 they have to leave the groups and move on, for example become witches or Spättlehansel in the adult guild.
The group of the Klepperlisbuben is for boys only. Their uniform are blue work shirts, red bandanas and black woollen hats. A long row if them, sorted by height, marches in the parades performing their song and rhythm.

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Girls are good at this skill, too, and limiting participation to boys was considered unfair. Hence the group of the Klepperlismaidli came into existence, and they walk in the parade and perform just like the boys. Their dress is a dark blue skirt with apron, white blouse and colourful vest, red bandana, white stockings and dark boots, and a headband that matches the pattern of the vest.

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Lumbehund are big and fat so they can hardly move. Their clothing is stuffed with hay until they are round as a barrel. The witches make fun of them, push them over, roll them on the ground, sit on them, step on them... Thanks to the hay they are not hurt, but this costume cannot at all be comfortable. It is sweating hot inside. And then there is another problem... the Fasend involves drinking alcohol, lots of it, and there are various theories how to deal with the inevitable disposal of superfluous body fluid when you are stuck inside a bundle of hay.
A young man who wants to become an active member of the witch guild has to be a Lumbehund in the first year. It is sort of an initiation rite (boys, eh!) and only after this he will be allowed to have himself a witch Häs made. I think they are all glad they have to do this only once in their jester career...

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Guilds from the surrounding villages and hamlets participate in the parade. The Strohhansel from Strohbach are always there. Strohbach is a hamlet in a small side valley, now part of the township of Gengenbach. Until the 1970s the village had no own carnival activities, but then a bunch of inhabitants decided it was time to start a guild. The name translates to „Straw Creek“, so the topic for their jester figure was obvious. The cute Strohhansel was presented for the first time in 1981. Head and jacket are covered in straw. The mask presents a friendly smiling face.
The guild appears regularly in Gengenbach and other parades in and around the Kinzig valley. Their „trademark“ is the little motor cart which seats one driver and up to three passengers. The miniature tractor loaded with sheaves of grain leads the group and carries the sign of the guild.
A single figure is the Unkrut („weed“), who is the enemy of the good plants and is fended off by the others with sticks and forks

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The jester figure of the Ewerderfler („those from the upper village“, i.e. the quarter outside Obertor gate) is a product of the late 1990s. Named Rotzlöffel („Ragamuffin“), he is exactly that - a naughty boy who likes to play tricks. Better not trust his friendly funny face too much;-) The ragamuffins also have developed their own technique how to do boat cruises.
Just like the witches of Gengenbach, new members have to be Lumpenhund during their first Fasend season before they are allowed to don the Häs. The second photos shows two of them, stuffed with hay so they can hardly move and made fun of by the older members.

Then follow the private groups, companies, clubs and so on. Most of them come with carts, some small, others so huge that they hardly make it round the corners. These carts are amazingly decorated and turned into fantastic vehicles, jungles, fairytale castles, pirate ships or whatever strikes the groups' imagination. These are new every year. Here is a photo gallery...

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Posted by Kathrin_E 04:00 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

Zell am Harmersbach: Snails, Playing Cards, Corn Leaves

The Smallest Imperial City and its Fasend

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Coloured paper, cards, corn leaves or snail shells - can you imagine that these are used to make suits and hats? Of course people don't dress like this all year round. Only for three days per year the little town goes crazy...

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Zell am Harmersbach, situated in the northern Black Forest in a small side valley off Kinzig valley, is in fact hardly more than a village. The settlement may have some 5.000 inhabitants. It has, however, a proud history. Zell gained the rights of a free city in 1366 and kept this status till 1803. Zell am Harmersbach was the smallest free imperial city in the whole Holy Roman Empire. Unfortunately the old town burned down around 1900. Not much is left of Zell's glorious past except Storchenturm gate and some adjacent bits of the town walls, and the late 18th century church.

Zell's Fastnacht guild has some unique masks and costumes. In addition to them, groups from the town's eight different quarters join the parade and design their show with a lot of imagination – see the photo galleries at the end. Due to the changing mottos every year’s parade is different. Since the place is small, people all know each other and the atmosphere is familiar, relaxed and fun. This makes Zell one of my all-time favourites. I thoroughly enjoyed my so far three visits.

In local dialect the Fastnacht is called „Fasend“ (not „Fasnet“ like in most of the Black Forest).The Fasend begins on Sunday with the Awakeing of the Narro at Storchenturm. Zell's big carnival parades take place on Carnival Sunday and Tuesday.

The Four Jester Types of Zell
Obviously Zell's inhabitants had no money to buy fabric and sew costumes. They wanted to celebrate Fastnacht nevertheless, so they used the materials they had and invented some unique Häs types.

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Zell used to have paper factories, so coloured paper was the first material they tried. The Bändlenarro is covered in paper stripes in six different pastel colours. This figure is the oldest and most frequent in Zell's jester guild. Bändlenarros are equipped with pig bladders to tease the spectators. Adults and bigger kids wear wooden masks with a grinning face while small children come without masks.

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A Schneckehüslinarro's suit is entirely covered with the shells of grapevine snails (which are frequent in this region). The poor guy cannot sit down and has to be very careful about his delicate decorum.

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Welschkorn is the regional word for corn. The Welschkornnarro's Häs consists of dry corn leaves which are sewn on jacket, pants and hat.

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Playing cards are used to make the Häs and hat of the Spielkartennarro. Three varieties are possible: either common bridge/skat cards, or the old German cards, or Cego cards. Cego is a regional card game which is popular in the Black Forest, only played by men because the female brain is unable to understand the rules (or so they say *grumble*)
Spielkartennarro and Schneckehüslinarro are equipped with extending scissors.

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Before the creation of elaborate Häs types, people simply wrapped each other up in reeds. Two Schilfnarros (reed jesters) were created for this year's parade to show what they looked like.

The Awakening of the Narro
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The beginning of the Fastnacht celebrations is a goosebumping event. It begins on Carnival Sunday at 2 p.m. with the Awakening of the Narro. The year before the Narro has been buried in the 'grave' at Storchenturm. Now his resurrection marks the beginning of the three festive days.
The council of the jester guild assemble on the stage at Storchenturm. The president of the guild reads the traditional speech, invoking the Narro to return to his humble people who have been awaiting another Fasend season in their serious daily lives.
Then the tomb opens and the jesters in full Häs appear one by one. Hundreds of them arise and walk out into town to form the Sunday parade.

The Moderators
These two guys deserve an extra chapter because they are so funny. Two former members of the jester council, Manfred Lehmann and Berthold Damm, moderate the parades from the stage in front of the town hall. They give some explanations about the jester guild, the year's motto, the groups in the parade and talk a lot of silly stuff to entertain the crowd. Some grasp of the local dialect is useful to understand them. Of course those two dress up, too. Like the groups from the town they adapt to the current motto. And it seems they are not scared of anything...
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In 2009 the motto was „Cinema“. The two guys where the farmer and his wife, both in Sunday dress - Berthold became charming Bertha.
In 2010 it was „Music - from classic to rock“ and they dressed up as rockers. Hilarious. They confessed that they had borrowed the clothes from their sons.
In 2011 they were the directors of the festival house. Very elegant in tailcoats and high hats.

2009 MOTTO: CINEMA
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2010 MOTTO: MUSIC – FROM CLASSIC TO ROCK
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2011 MOTTO: FESTIVAL AT THE FESTIVAL HOUSE
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Posted by Kathrin_E 05:10 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

Singen: Hairy Bears

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Singen am Hohentwiel is known for three things:

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1. its location in the Hegau, a landscape with steep rocky hills that are in fact the leftovers of extinct volcanoes, many of them have the ruins of medieval castles on top. The one next to the town is named Hohentwiel.
2. its Fastnacht and the Hoorige Bär („Hairy Bear“).
3. Maggi. This is a spice similar to soy sauce but a bit stronger in taste because it contains taste enhancers, so you use just a few drops. A bottle of Maggi can be found in almost every German household. The factory is situated next to Singen's train station and impossible to overlook.
Otherwise Singen is a modern, mostly post-war town. Not much to say about this place. Since I was only six when I climbed Hohentwiel for the (so far) only time in my life, and since advertising spicy sauces is not allowed here, let's discuss the carnival...

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I have so far visited twice. Once I got to see the regular parade on Carnival Sunday. In 2010 I visited for the 150th anniversary of the local guild, which was celebrated with a jester meeting and a parade of some 60 guilds from near and far.
The main parade of the carnival weekend in Singen takes place on Saturday at 2 p.m. It is organized by the town's largest and oldest guild, the Poppele-Zunft. Many other guilds and groups from Singen and surroundings participate. Confetti attacks are very common in Singen, just as elsewhere. However, I have never anywhere else seen the kids in the crowd bring bags of confetti to throw on the jesters. Among the kids it also seems common and acceptable to spray shaving foam on each other, preferably into the hair. I noticed a level of bad manners among kids and youths in the crowd that I have never experienced at parades in other locations of the Alemannic Fastnacht.

The local salutation is „Hoorig!“ („Hairy!“), referring to the Hoorige Bär , as is the local verse. It makes no sense, and it isn’t supposed to...

Hoorig, hoorig, hoorig isch der säll,
und wenn der säll net hoorig wär,
denn wüscht mer net, wer hoorig wär.
Hoorig, hoorig isch der säll

(Hairy, hairy, hairy is the one,
and if the one wasn't hairy,
we would not know who were hairy.
Hairy, hairy, hairy is the one.)

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The Hoorige Bär (Hairy Bear) is Singen's most characteristic Fastnacht figure. He belongs to the species of the Straw Bears. Originally there used to be only one of them but the group has grown, it is limited to 12 bears now.
The material is pea straw. Unlike most other straw bears, however, the guy doees not have to undergo the uncomfortable procedure of being wrapped and tied in straw before every parade. The pea straw is sewn onto a fabric suit that can be put on and off more easily.
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The 'bears' are most impressive at the beginning of the season when they look three or four times the size of the guy inside (estimated). Towards the end the straw has notably thinned out. The straw suit has to be remade every year.

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Poppele , the rider wearing red and green, is the central figure and namesake of in Singen's largest and oldest jester guild, the Poppele Guild. He is accompanied by several groups in different costumes - riders, historical personnel, the Hairy Bears, and other Häs groups. Poppele is a legendary figure, who once upon a time lived in Hohenkrähen castle. His real name was Popolius Maier. He was the nobleman's representant in the castle and in charge of both the armory and the economy. As Popolius was by no means a nice guy, he was cursed to become a ghost after his death. The Poppele ghost, however, loves playing pranks but is never mean or harmful. Lots of legends tell about people he fooled but then gave a rich gift to.

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The Blätzlihansel wears a Häs made from little pieces of fabric in five different colours, and a textile mask. This kind of costume with masks that are made from fabric, not wood, is typical for the Bodensee region.

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Schellenhansel is a jester in candy colours with little bells all over hood and jacket. They are equipped with extending scissors. This figure dates back to the 19th century but was forgotten for some time until it was revived in the 1930s, forgotten again, and revived again. The Schellenhansel Häs is worn by women only.

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Rebwieber, the vintner women, another entirely female group. They recall the women who used to work in the vineyards on the slopes of Hohentwiel.

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Several smaller, younger guilds join the parade. Blumezupfer (flower pickers) are a newer local guild from Singen. Some masks are flower heads, the clothing is a green gardener's working suit. Others have their heads covered in many small flowers and wear a brown suit with more flowers.

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The jester guild Buronia from Singen’s suburb Beuren an der Aach has two main figures: Groppestecher (a fisherman) and Muckeschöpfer who is catching mosquitoes (instead of fish) with his net. Groppen are small fish that hide under the stones at the ground of streams. The fisherman impersonates a very poor farmer who had to catch these fish to have food for his family. A tell-tale about the Beuroners claims that, when they settled down in the wetlands, they believed the mosquitoes were bees and tried to catch them for the honey, hence the Muckeschöpfer.

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The beer brewers belong to a guild named Gerstensack (barley sack) from Gottmadingen, a village on the Seerhein - the short piece of Rhine river that connects Bodensee and Untersee lakes. They have a cart with beer barrels and distribute beer to the spectators. Unfortunately not to everyone but mostly to the big men... *grumble*

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The witch guild of Heilsberghexen from Gottmadingen takes along a little hut on wheels. It serves as prison for caught girls.
Have you ever wondered what witches wear underneath...?

Picture gallery of the parade
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Posted by Kathrin_E 01:21 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

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