Updated: Jul 28, 2020
Fasching is to Germany what Carnaval is to Rio de Janeiro and Mardi Gras is to New Orleans!
In some cities in Germany, large carnivals take place on the Thursday, (Fat Thursday) Monday (Shrove Monday or Rose Monday) and Tuesday (Fat Tuesday) before Ash Wednesday.
Though not official public holidays, normal work may be affected by the festivities in cities with large carnivals, such as Cologne, Frankfurt and Munich.
Although Carnival in Rio may be the craziest of all, Germany is undoubtedly the most enthusiastic Karneval center in Europe (Fasching).
"While both involve masquerades, Halloween is more about children, homes, candy and neighborhoods, whereas Fasching incorporates food, beverages and parades into the mix"
Nearly every town has its own festivities and it is celebrated in homes across the country with the same enthusiasm Americans celebrate Halloween...and then some! While both involve masquerades, Halloween is more about children, homes, candy and neighborhoods, whereas Fasching incorporates food, beverages and parades into the mix. Fasching varies from area to area, but no matter where the celebrations are held, there is fun, happiness, laughter and a certain nostalgia.
My personal experience with Fasching is that some German communities do it with great zest and obviously have a dedicated budget to host this annual event, while others work with what they have at their disposal to provide their community with a great experience. In some towns the parades involve huge elaborately decorated floats, costumes you might expect to find in a Warner Brothers studio, university-level marching bands, professional performers, and high-end chachkas they throw to bystanders along the parade route. In other towns the floats might be on wagons and tractors, the costumes might appear more home-made, they may have high-school marching bands, and inexpensive trinkets to distribute to bystanders.
However, from my experience, both are happy to dole out Schnapps or Vodka to bystanders, both are equally as eager to celebrate, and at both you will find people of all nationalities coming together to dance in the street, and to eat, drink and be merry...........together!
During our first assignment to Germany in 2008, Fasching in 2009 was my first opportunity to get outside after a long winter, to mingle with very friendly Germans who were eager to share anything in their possession and meet some new German friends! If the town you live in does not have a Fasching celebration, I encourage you to find the nearest town that does, take the day off work to participate, and you'll be happy you did!!
Unfortunately, Mardi Gras, Carnaval and Fasching may have all unknowingly played a role in the spread of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic; the facts were still being discovered about the time all these events kicked off. Hopefully the world will be healed enough by 2021 to let everyone get back to these celebrations!