Fasching in Heidelberg

Luckily, a German clued me into the fact that there would be a parade going through my neighborhood on Tuesday afternoon, the day I have always known as “Fat Tuesday.” Germans call it Fasching and, as I read on an online English-speaking forum, someone wrote that it is a “the only day Germans are required to be happy.”

Crowds gathering in the Bismarckplatz for the parade.

I found out about the parade an hour or so before it was supposed to start. Being a lady of leisure, I thought taking in an afternoon parade sounded quite lovely.

I went around the block from my building, and the roads were closed down. I saw many people in costumes, especially kids, which reminded me more of Halloween than of a pre-lent celebration. The kids were carrying bags to collect candy from the parade (again, much like trick-or-treating).

Several marching bands were featured in the parade. They seemed to be composed of people of all age ranges, so I doubt they were from high schools.

I heard that the floats were from local clubs, but given my limited German knowledge, I couldn’t make out what any of the clubs were about. In the next few pictures, for your pleasure, I will give my best guesses.

The Heidelberg Christmas Flying Club

The Heidelberg Big Foot Marching Band

The Heidelberg Jamaica Enthusiasm Club

The Heidelberg Escaped Prisoner Club

Yeah, I have no idea on this one, though, I imagine their monthly meetings are not pleasant.

Try to get candy before kids or senior citizens get to it.

Each float threw candy, popcorn, or confetti into the crowd. I got hit in the face so many times by hard candy. They would throw about 20 pieces out at a time. At first, I thought it was just for the kids, but when elderly men started knocking me over to try to catch the sweets, I knew I could be a little more ruthless.

One last thing that was pretty funny was a troupe of girls that would go up and kiss men.

This unsuspecting police officer had four of the ladies behind him run up and kiss his face while he was on the job. While supposedly commonplace in Heidelberg, I’ve never seen anything quite like this in Detroit…

Even the police have “fun” working Fasching.

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2 responses to “Fasching in Heidelberg

  1. I remember my first Karneval in Germany. I was at my hotel waiting for a taxi to go to work and the cab driver showed up at 7AM dressed as a clown. I thought I was being punked. I then spent several Karneval celebrations in the next years hiding indoors. It wasn’t until I married someone from the Cologne area that I truly learned the customs, the mentality and to appreciate, even look forward to the celebration every year. You can start by learning the songs. That helps.

    The witches in the photos above are special for your area and the women running around kissing everyone is one (along with the cutting for men’s ties) is done on Women’s Day, a sort of Sadie Hawkins like tradition celebrated one day during Karneval.

    Heidelberg is a beautiful city. Enjoy!

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