We all know about Mardi Gras, even though I’ve never actually been to one (in NOLA or otherwise).
What I didn’t know about Europe before moving over here was that a lot of European countries celebrate Carnival, which serves much the same purpose. There’s a big party, usually lasting several days, leading up to the beginning of Lent. Basel has a Carnival, but they call it Fasnacht and it starts the Monday after Ash Wednesday, which is pretty unique!
Fasnacht starts at 4 AM on Monday and lasts until 4 AM on Thursday. That is three solid days of drummers drumming; pipers piping; oranges and other produce being thrown, as well as candy (and bottles of vodka from at least one float I saw); and mimosas and roses being handed out to women in the crowd.
And the confetti.
I have never seen so much confetti!
Morgenstreich is the official beginning of Fasnacht. It’s a parade that starts at 4 AM and takes place in total darkness. All the city lights are turned out on the parade route and flash photography is prohibited. The only real source of light is from the large lanterns that each troop is carrying with them.
I did not attend Morgenstreich because I value my sleep!
There are two other parades during Fasnacht, though, one on Monday afternoon and another on Wednesday afternoon.
Despite the rain, G and I headed down to Barfüsserplatz to watch the parade. I was surprised at the turn out; I thought there were a lot of people there! And I guess, given the weather, there were. The crowds on Tuesday and Wednesday were a lot bigger, though.
Everyone dresses up for Fasnacht. I had been baffled by the Halloween costume bits and pieces available in the grocery stores here since we moved in January, but they all made sense once Fasnacht started. G has lots of dress up clothes, but they were all packed by the movers, so we won’t have them until we move into our new apartment. We lucked out that she had these Hello Kitty “sunglasses” from McDonald’s.
G and I stopped at Starbucks on our way home from the parade to get out of the rain and warm up with some hot chocolate. Right outside the door, one of the troops dumped a huge bag of confetti on a couple of girls… just as the doors to Starbucks swung open. That confetti coated most of the floor inside the coffee shop!
We got out and about during all three days of Fasnacht, so there’s definitely more to come! More confetti, more creepy masks, more lanterns, and way more drums and pipes.