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Oberndorf: The Most Nourishing Parade


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.

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.


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...


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.


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.


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?


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!


Posted by Kathrin_E 13:27 Archived in Germany Tagged alemannic_fastnacht

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