Here’s a bit of real German culture for you!


Compiled by Johnny Glover

Before the time of Lent, Germany (as well as other Germanic and RC cultures) have been wildly been celebrating Fasching with meetings, parties, carnival street processions and parades all with lot of noise, masks, fancy dress, fool’s costumes and unfortunately often with excess alcohol. Some people even come to work all dressed up in costumes!

This is an ancient tradition that has been passed on through generations and is connected with the celebrations that happen all over the world in predominately Roman Catholic areas. Whether it be “Mardis Gras” in S. America or “Fasnet” in Basel/Switzerland or the mask balls in Venice. It really has to do with wild celebrations before the fasting season of Lent during which life calms down again to a minimum.




It all starts on the 11th day of the 11th month (November) at 11:11 of each year. This exact place in time marks the beginning of the “festive” or 5th season, which the local Fasching-Vereine (Fasching Committees and Societies) all over Germany have been waiting for in order to start organizing their celebrations and hold loads of club meetings called “Prunksitzungen” (really local gatherings with piles of very jovial entertainment: band music, cabaret, singing, dancing, comical speeches etc.).

Processions and Parades


All of the preparations culminate into a hive of activity in February and March ending in the processions on the Sunday, (Rose)Monday and Shrove Tuesday. The largest of which and best visited being in Cologne and Mainz (on Monday) with Munich (on Sunday) close behind.  

The Thursday before is called the Weiberfastnacht (wimmin’s day), where women can rule the day and are even  allowed to cut the ties of any men and take them as souvenirs. A rather strange thing to do!

All of this being in preparation for the time of Lent where Ash Wednesday marks the end of it all and Germany reverts back to “business as usual”. Ash Wednesday has actually become a very political day with all the major political parties having annual general meetings.

Nowadays a great deal of “modern” people flee these so called “crazy” days and use it as an excuse for taking short holidays. The ski slopes of the Alps tend to become overcrowded during this time with the first queues of the year on the ski lifts as well as on the roads.

(The battle cry of the season!)