Sunday, July 14, 2013 July! Not really

I've been meaning write about this for eons, or at least, since February. Here are a few pictures from Sunday, February 10 in Wiesbaden when some friends and I drove up for the Fastnacht parade. I've been behind on writing about it because there is so much to the Karneval/Fasching/Fastnacht (the name varies depending on the region) season. Instead of trying to explain it extensively, I'll just post a little bit. All of these celebrations are part of the pre-Lenten season, which lasts from November 11 (the eleventh month, eleventh day, eleventh hour and minute usually marks the beginning) until the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. 
Our trip to Wiesbaden was my first celebration for this. Since I was still pretty new in the country at that point and was busy with apartment hunting and waiting for my car to arrive, it was the only parade I visited. Next year, I hope to go to more (and will dress up and act a bit silly at one, I hope).

Before the parade started, a guy pushed a pretzel cart along. The pretzels were available for purchase. Following him, people dressed in fake jail suits were pushing a bar made to look like a jail on wheels. Their booze was just for them ;)
 When the parade did get started, people in wild costumes walked by. Many people, bystanders and parade participants alike, were drinking a bit. However, it was actually a rather family friendly parade, for the most part. Drinking in public is more accepted here. In fact, these ladies dressed like wolves and pushing a baby carriage even had a few nips here and there.

I was extremely amused by a marching band. They actually all stopped playing so they could have take a few shots! That's so unlike the US. Everyone was enjoying themselves in a civil manner.
Part of the fun is shouting "helau!" It's kind of a cutesy way to say "hello" for Fastnacht/Fasching. People on the floats and the MC would shout it and everyone would shout it back, sometimes chanting it. I love carrying on and being silly so of course I loved hollering "helau!"

I've heard that in Ramstein, people yell "Ralau!," you know, with an R, for Ramstein, and Kaiserslautern has "Kalau!" I need to go and hear these things for myself next year.

Here's some "Helau"-ing but it's a bit hard to hear.

Dressing up in costumes is a big part of these parades and celebrations. Many of the costumes either are part of political satire or folklore. Some witches walked through the parade; their costumes are something about driving winter out, or evil, or whatever.

Either way, we froze our buns off, yelled ourselves almost hoarse with many "Helaus," and enjoyed ourselves thoroughly. I'm looking forward to many more parades next year. Heck, the fun starts again in November, so I don't have that long to wait.