Munich’s Fasching begins in November

A guest post by Adam Keyes of Munich’s Karneval Universe

In early November cities and towns all across Germany erupted into color and celebration for the beginning of the Carnival season, or the “Fifth Season” (die Fünfte Jahreszeit) as it is also known, and Munich was no different.

Fasching, as Carnival or Mardi Gras is known in Munich, traditionally begins at 11:11 a.m. on the 11th day of the 11th month, as it is at this time that the “Council of Eleven” (Narrhalla) gathers to plan the events of the forthcoming celebrations that will occur across the city. The Council of Eleven, who all wear comedy jester and fools hats during the celebrations, are joined by the Carnival Prince and Princess in the planning processes. This year’s Carnival Prince and Princess are Alexander II and Lisa I, who arrived at Munich’s Viktualienmarkt (“food market” square) in a vintage car to be presented to their “foolish nation.” From this point until March 4, 2014 the Carnival Prince and Princess reign over all proceedings.

The German term Fasching originates from the medieval word vaschnc and relates to the fasting period of Lent (die Fastenzeit), which commences right after the Carnival season. Fasching has its origins in the dancing, revelry and pageantry that allowed everyone to let off steam before giving up things for Lent. Despite the evolving changes in customs, manners, the economy and celebrations, the Fasching tradition has lasted to this day. Continue reading

Karneval and Fasching: There’s an App for That!

Karneval, Fasching, Fastnacht – Mardi Gras or Carnival, German style, is coming up soon (Feb. 10-12). And, as for most things, there’s an app for that!

Here’s a look at some interesting German carnival and Fasching apps for the iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch and Android devices, most of them free. To find the Apple apps, just go to the App Store on your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch, or go to the iTunes Store and select iPhone or iPad apps. For Android, go to Google Play. Unless stated otherwise, all the apps below are available for both Android and iOS, and are in German. This means they are great for people with at least intermediate German skills trying to improve their German, as well as those who actually are planning to attend carnival in German-speaking Europe. A word of caution! I have not personally used or tested any of these apps. If you have, please leave a comment!

The Kölner Karneval (Cologne Carnival) is one of the biggest carnival events in Germany, if not the biggest. Most (but not all) of the apps listed here are related to Karneval in Cologne. The first one is in both German and English: Continue reading

A Blog on Booze

I would say I learned the hard way, that attitudes regarding alcohol are quite different in Germany than in Canada.  As a twenty-something living in Düsseldorf, (home to the world’s longest bar top if all were placed one after the other, as the legend goes) I very much enjoyed the nightlife.  It wasn’t the easiest adjustment however, from Canadian clubs and bars to European-style discos and pubs. Where I am from all local watering holes, nightclubs, restaurants etc., must close by 2:00 am, by law. So my first night out on the town in Düsseldorf’s pub-filled Altstadt, I was not prepared for the long night ahead of me. I was caught up in the dancing and cheering, the Ballerman-style music, and in the sea of decadent dark Altbier. Every now and again I would stop and ponder though, how amazing it was that it wasn’t yet 2:00 am. Really though, 2:00 am had come and gone, and by the time the chairs were being put up on the tables, the sun was out. Lesson learned.

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“Kölle Alaaf” in San Diego!

It’s February. In our process of settling in as a Korean American German family here in San Diego, the next event on the calendar was Karneval. I mentioned the holiday to my daughter expecting her to recall some of it from her Kindi days in Aalen at least from pictures of her as a cowgirl jumping on a trampoline or going out the door as a butterfly. She didn’t. I presented it to her in a different way, “Remember Fasching, Vera?” That seemed to ring a bell for my Swabian girl.

For the first time, our daughters’ German preschool here in San Diego organized a special adult-only party on the first Saturday evening of this month at the German American Societies of San Diego. As my husband is from the Rhineland, Karneval country, I had left the costume planning to him. This task did not sit high on his list of priorities, so it was the Thursday before the party, that we found ourselves a bit panic stricken with figuring out what to wear. Going in “plain clothes” was not an option. If we were to go to a Karneval party, we would have to go all the way. We were further restricted by the fact that I am seven months pregnant, so even if there were any costumes left to buy at Party City, most would unlikely fit me. I finally had a solution, which my husband reluctantly went along with: sauna goers! We didn’t actually go in the buff, but we put our matching bathrobes to good use.

We were named the Sauna couple or "Sauna Paar" that evening.

We were named the Sauna couple or “Sauna Paar” that evening.

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