Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Ho Narro: The Insanity Of Konstanz

OK so in a bid to avoid while taking a break from studying,  of which there was a lot of, I asked a few people what they thought 'Fastnacht' was, and of course no one had any clue. So I being the academic that I am did some research.
Fastnacht is defined as:
'the pre-Lenten carnival in Alemannic folklore in Switzerland, southern Germany, Alsace and western Austria. The festival starts on the Thursday before Ash Wednesday, known as Schmotziger Donnerstag or Fettdonnerstag and continues until the following Tuesday. Fastnacht is also known as Fasching or Karnival' 
(Interesting facts also include: Fastnacht is a way of scaring off Winter and welcoming in Spring and the reason for all the mask wearing is to hide your identity from God during the shenanigans and tomfoolery)
This is:
1) A fair assessment
2) No where near enough information if you plan on surviving 6 days of insanity

So dear readers, this is where you thank me once again as I (hopefully) give you all the tools you need to experience, enjoy and come out the other side of Fastnacht.

It began late Wednesday evening. I, in my innocence, was wandering through town not really paying attention to my surroundings when a family of trolls walks around the corner. Life rarely offers a proper Hollywood style double take moment but I can assure you this was one. That was the moment I realized that this was a much bigger deal than I had previously thought.
The Wednesday night parade consisted of a long procession of everything that has ever appeared in your nightmares followed by a delightful Hellfire. Yeah, it wasn't exactly your average Wednesday evening..

The following day was the big one. 'Schmotziger Dunstig' otherwise know as the day Konstanz goes f*cking insane. I wasn't aware how insane until I was woken at 7am by a brass band casually meandering down the street. It was going to be an odd one, I mean it's not everyday you get on the bus with John Lennon, Elvis, a panda, 3 trolls and a family of cows. We went for a stroll around town which led to exclamations such as 'hey look a giraffe holding baby Elmo' and 'is that a group of mushrooms playing the drums?'. I think it's pretty clear that only pictures can do this day of insanity the justice it deserves.

Now if everyday was like 'Schmotziger Dunstig' then everyone in Konstanz between the ages of 16 and 80 would be on the list for a liver transplant so a few days of respite are more than welcome. The next big day is Sunday which I guess can be considered the most family friendly day of the festivities.
This is the day of The Parade. No, not a parade. The Parade. Now when you guys think of a parade you probably think of the 40 minutes spent freezing to death on St. Patrick's Day. That would be laughed at and scorned by the people of Konstanz. The Karnival Parade is where all laws and rules are thrown out the window. No seriously, kids are encouraged to take sweets from any and everyone, girls are literally lifted from the crowd, thrown into a cage and carried off, men are shut into a coffin and dragged down the street and women have straw shoved up their dresses by people in masks. All in the name of good fun of course.

Finally we come to the final day of the celebrations. Now with it being Shrove Tuesday I had to once again struggle through the usual ridicule associated with not liking pancakes (I know, I know) and then it was off into town not quite knowing what to expect. In hindsight there couldn't possibly be a better way to close the madness than by burning effigys at various points throughout the city, right?

To say that Fastnacht was a surreal experience would be one of the biggest understatements I've ever come across. It is quite difficult to properly express how amazing it really is and if any of you have free time at the beginning of Lent you know where you need to go.
As for me, I think it would be the ideal location for an ERASMUS reunion.

(All photos are as usual stolen from courtesy of Rhys)

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