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.
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).
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.)
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.
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...
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 .
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!
„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.
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.
What's going on in Villingen during the High Days? Here is a timetable of the main events.
14.00 Children's parade
Thursday, Friday and Saturday night: different balls
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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“