Jester tree in front of church and town hall
This blog entry is special, because the photos are just a few hours old. We are in the middle of the High Days 2017. There is still some leftover confetti stuck in my hair while I am writing this. In Bühl they are certainly partying all night.
Bühl is a small town in the Upper Rhine Plain, just south of Baden-Baden. It belongs to the Ortenau, which is a wine and fruit growing region at the foot of the Black Forest. This is not one of the big Fasnet centres, but one where this festival is thriving and developing well.
I came to Bühl because of a silly coincidence. I was asked for help identifying two photos of a carnival parade in the 1970s that were found in our city archive. One showed a witch, the other a jester figure with a tool that looked like an oversized pair of scissors but strangely deformed. With a bit of serendipity and patient searching, I came across the jester guild of Bühl – strike! Now I wanted to see them in real life.
Bühl’s guild Narrhalla Bühl 1826 e.V. holds the main parade on Sunday afternoon. My impression ist hat they are sort of a roof organization for the several jester guilds in Bühl. The Narrendaddel, a single figure, leads the parade. Hemdglunkerle in white nightshirts, Quetschedeufel („plum devils“), Schrättle, Rebgeister („vine spirits“) and two witch guilds are all at home in Bühl.
The oldest carnival tradition is connected with the Lichtputzer („candle cleaners“) guild and dates back to the year 1534. Historical reports from the 16th century tell of a certain baker, a notorious drunkard and jester, who would note all happenings throughout the year in his book and then, during the carnival days, roam the village pubs together with is companions and hold a jester court. Scissors were used to cut the candlewick so that the person’s „light could burn more brightly from now on“ – symbolically, of course. The Lichtputzer Häs was invented in the 1970s as a revival of this tradition. They carry oversized models of those special scissors that were used to cut candlewicks in former times.
Plum and Pear
Bühl has been the namesake of the famous Bühler Zwetschgen, a species of blue plums, similar to damson plums but not the same. These fruit are popular because they are tasty and easy to cultivate, and because there are so many uses for them in the kitchen. They make a great topping for cakes, they make woderful jam and plum puree, they can be dried, used for sauces, and for schnapps making (Zwetschgenwasser). Of course these fruit are alive and present in Bühl’s carnival parade. A guild from neighbouring Neusatz, named Niesatzer Hurzle, have created two fruit figures, the plum and the pear. Thus blue and green are their colours.
Dozens of guilds from the small villages in the northern part of the Ortenau, around Rastatt and Baden-Baden come to Bühl to join the parade. A place like this shows how lively the Fasnet tradition is, with new guilds forming all the time and new figures being designed. Witches are particularly popular.
In addition to the Fasnet guilds, many groups, clubs, teams, companies, schools from Bühl and surroundings are taking part. Some local issues are addressed, too. In Bühl the church bells, respective the question whether they should toll the hours at night or not, divide public opinion into two parties.
While one side likes and wants the ringing of the bells, the other side wants undisturbed sleep. The priest (the real one) is keeping out of the discussion, he marches ahead with a sign saying, „Not my business“ and „I don‘t care“.
A scene that made us all laugh… A huge cart with a confetti cannon on top arrived. The guy at the cannon spotted an open window on the first floor and, sitting in the window, one of his mates he obviously knew well. He aimed and shot a full load of confetti into his mate’s living room. (Moral of story: Beware of your friends...)
The flail dance: This guild’s Häs represents farmers from former times. The flail is their accessoure. They form a row with the flails on their shoulders, and one by one dive underneath the flails from front to back. The witch is an intruder.
Dreizipfeleshansele from Achern - one of the prettiest figures I ever saw.
On the train back home I found myself among a horde of red and black devils whom I had seen in the parade. They came from a village near Rastatt – the Saubergteufel from Ottenau. Other passengers and I talked to some of them. They were good fun. It must be really cool to go on tour with a whole bunch of friends like they do.
From witch with love