Wey-Frosch with the summit of Rigi in the background
"Güdismontag" is the local name for Carnival Monday, one of the main days in Luzern's Fasnacht (sic!). Not only the spelling differs - Swiss traditions differ in many respect from the Alemannic-German ones, although the base is the same. I hopped over by train for the day because I have long wanted to see the carnival of Luzern.
It is a sunny pre-spring day on the shores of Vierwaldstättersee. The mountain panorama is as beautiful as can be. Snow-capped peaks are reflected in the calm waters of the lake. Cruise boats are waiting for passengers – but today no one cares about lake cruises and mountain views.
There is something in the air. The streets, the quays, the bridges are packed with people, many of them in fancy dress. Fantastic masks roam the streets. The original paintings on Chapel Bridge have disappeared – in fact they are just covered in order to protect them. Insted, the bridge is decorated with Fasnacht pictures. Stalls have been set up that sell food and booze. Bands are playing on the river bank. Guggemusik mixes with the hammering noises from many loudspeakers.
People are already lining up along the route of the big parade. One has to come early to find a good spot.
At 2 p.m. the Monday parade starts. The best place to watch it is on Seebrücke, the big bridge across the mouth of river Reuss. Especially on a day like this when the photographer appreciates the bright sunlight. I found the bridge less crowded in the middle than at the ends, just mentioning.
Already before the official beginning small masked groups are walking the course. Even the Royal Family is there, with a giant birthday cake for the Queen's 90th…
The official beginning of the parade are riders with the banners of the four main guilds and societies that form Luzern‘s Fasnacht Committee (Fidelitas Lucernensis, Maskenliebhaber-Gesellschaft, Wey-Zunft, Zunft zu Safran).
The parades on Thursday and Monday are identical except for the leaders. While Thursday is the day of Brother Fritschi and his wife Fritschine and the Safran guild, Monday is ruled by the Wey Frog. The Monday parade is led by Wey-Zunft, whose symbol is the giant frog. They have the prominent place in the first part of the parade which Brother Fritschi and his entourage hold on Thursday. The huge green Frog has his own cart, pulled by members of the guild in frog costumes. The president of the guild is driven in a splendid horse-drawn carriage. Another carriage carries the heads of the other guilds.
Then come the 39 numbers of the parade, each of them listing a large guild or band that often consists of several parts. In other words, the whole parade lasts about 3 hours. Many participating groups have huge carts. Each of them chooses a topic that costumes and cart refer to. Some are political others simply meant to entertain. Small independent groups march in between. The self-made masks and costumes are fantastic. Guggemusik bands are an essential part. They will have their biggest event on Tuesday night.
A frequent topic this year are fantasy figures, Star Wars, fighting roboter creatures à la World of Warcraft and similar – not my world so I do not know how to call them correctly - apologies to the hardcore fans! ;-)
The kind of pictures that you see on the t-shirts of heavy metal fans, you get the idea.
Well, let the photos speak for themselves. After a dozen or so groups in this style, and there were more than a dozen, it becomes slightly boring, though…
Warriors fight the City of Luzern for some issue in local politics
Is Luzern‘s Fasnacht worth seeing? It certainly is. I came over from Germany for the day so I got to see little more than the Monday parade, though. So my experience is just a snapshot of a small part of it. Some day I would like to join the entire sequence of events, starting with the Big Bang and the arrival of the Fritschi Family on Thursday morning and ending with the Guggemusik Monstercorso and the Farewell Fritschi ceremony on Tuesday night.