Friday, 27 February 2009

Fasnacht

I wanted to share a couple of photos from Fasnacht here in Konstanz this weekend. This is one festival that southern Germans take seriously. I'm not sure how well the costumes come across in the photos: when I saw individual people dressed up they seemed kind of silly; when I saw a few people hanging around in the same costume it felt corny; but when you get roving ganges of 30 or 40 of these guys ambling down the streets, only their eyes visible, it starts to have a serious impact on your psyche.
This traditional festival marks a transition from winter into spring. There are evil spirits (witches, goblins, etc.) and jester-like figures that taunt the evil spirits and frighten them away. And in the best tradition of human nature, even the clowns are creepy. At least I think they're clowns... or maybe they're evil characters too? Unfortunately my girlfriend was not with me to translate the culture.
This guy was cracking a 5m-long bullwhip on a crowded street. In North America, the good spirits could have frightened him off with threats of lawsuits!

The parade was actually a lot of fun. I particularly like the characters who sneak down behind the rows of spectators and surprise them with confetti or handfuls of straw rubbed in their hair. And my absolute favourite trick was seeing a huge furry monster looming menacingly over someone only to suddenly proffer a candy held delicately between thumb and index finger. This certainly beats Halloween for entertainment value, though I can't quite figure out why something called Fasnacht goes on for a whole week. Maybe I'll figure it out next year...

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