Every year before Lent, German speaking countries begin a period of religious celebrations called Fasching. Some areas in Germany and Switzerland call this Mardi Gras like carnival celebration something else like Fastnacht or Fastnet, but where I am living it’s called Fasching. This pre-lenten party begins on November 11, and 11:11 a.m. and finishes on Ash Wednesday. The hight of the celebrations happen the week of lent, and in this time the locals party hard and dress in costume.
There is a common costume theme among the locals similar to the photos above. Wild animals, witches, and creepy masks that resemble your great uncle Brad that no one really invites to Thanksgiving dinner anymore. According to the internet, these cultural costumes are said to drive out evil spirits of winter in preparation for spring, and to show the contrast between good and evil. The traditional theme has medieval roots giving the costumes their dark creepy vibes.
Some people dress in typical Halloween like costumes of whatever they fancy, but my favorite were those that stuck to tradition. My town had a late night Fasching party at a restaurant, but my old lady bones wanted to sleep. I was stoked to discover that there was a small celebration a couple towns over from where I live in a town called Mittenwald. The Mittenwald Karneval started at 1 p.m. which is a time of day I can get behind.
This was the final day of celebration, and while it would have been fun to travel a bit further to Munich for a bigger celebration, I was glad I went to Mittenwald. There were lots of children running around in costumes hollering weird noises and whipping whips. The whipping was actually slightly terrifying and I cannot seem to find the significance of this. Apparently harassment is a thing during Fasching (playful harassment) because I was hit with a broom by a 4’5″ witch.
I also saw kids pushing adults, adults poking at other adults with sticks, and of course beer. Plenty of beer.
Although I don’t drink, I enjoy being around those that do in Germany. Only if they’re locals though. Germans don’t get as obnoxious as Americans because it’s legal to drink in public here at all times of day. The bartenders serving shots and beer at this carnival celebration were taking shots with the customers, it was fun. I don’t know what I enjoyed more: watching the workers drink with customers, or watching elderly women taking shots out of mini ice cream cones.
As if the Fasching celebration wasn’t enough, the Marienplatz in Mittenwald is adorable. It’s small, but with the chaos of the carnival it was alive and booming. The music was traditional, and my friend and I grabbed a seat in the middle of all the action so I could enjoy some tea. Not just any tea, but a “this tea is warmed by a tea light candle” type of tea. It was bougie as hell, so I drank it with my pinkies up.
Of all the things I saw in Mittenwald, my favorite by far was the mountain directly behind the train station. As we walked off the train towards town, I happened to turn around and there she was. I love the look of snow on top of a mountain, the white really makes the contrast POP. No matter where we went, she was towering above it all.
This visit to Mittenwald was a short one, but I’ll be back to explore more of the small town eventually. Next year during the Fasching festivities I might be more inclined to stay out after dark, but for my first time I was glad to party with my kind of people. Aka small children and adults that own small children.
If you happen to be in Germany the week of Lent I highly recommend going to a Fasching event. For those who want to read more about Fasching, this blog post has another first hand experience with a bit more history. Until next year Germany!
Q: Would you rather go to a big event, or a smaller less touristy event?