Valentine or Helau ?

“She was carrying two coffees and a donut bag, and right then and there, he fell in love.” – Jill Shalvis  Animal Magnetism

Free week this week on the FourFoxesOneHound website, and even though it might be the obvious thing to talk about Valentine’s Day, there’s something even closer to my heart that is happening this week!

German tradition – sorry, I hope I don’t bore you with it!

Carnival!

It traditionally begins on the 11th November and culminates in the days before Ash Wednesday – this week! Oh boy, and I miss it! My home town is Mainz, and it’s one of the cities famous for its celebrations, parades and jollity! We call it “Meenzer Fassenacht”.

From Wikipedia:
 The tradition of carnival can be traced back to the Christian moveable feasts, where Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent and occurs forty-six days (forty days not counting Sundays) before Easter. The first written records of the tradition date from the 13th and 14th century. By that time, regulations against excessive gluttony and debauchery during the days before carnival had been established. The word „Fastnacht“ or carnival occurs for the first time during the 13th century. Details about the old Mainz carnival are not thoroughly covered in primary sources. A scripture of the Mainz humanist writer Dietrich Gresemund dated to the end of the 15th century describes carnival as an unorganized Volksfest comprising masquerade, meals, drinking and dancing during day and night. He describes the celebrants engaging in crude jokes or, under the protection of their masks, excessive quarrelling. Simultaneously, huge carnival celebMainzer Fassenacht rations at the electoral court happened, where the roles at the court were rearranged at random. In 1664 the prince elector drew the role of the electoral cabinetmaker, in 1668 he was cup-bearer and had to serve all guests. This habit was called „Mainzer Königreich“ (Mainz kingdom). This roleplaying tradition continued until the last elector, Friedrich Karl Joseph von Erthal, terminated it in 1775.

I have very fond memories of the carnival season, with getting dressed up as a cowboy, indian, witch, punk (in later years … LOL) and I think even as a clown one year. It must be every child’s dream. We would go to the parades over a couple of days, scream “helau” from the top of our lungs and were rewarded with lollies, treats or toys. No school, of course, for one or two days. I was talking to my mum just last week and we were reminiscing about my birthday parties. Having my birthday just a few days/weeks before the “Rosenmontag” (the main day on the calendar for carnival), we had a “carnival” party with everyone being dressed up. I vividly remember it like it was yesterday. Big thanks to mum – five to six kids (mostly cowboys or indians) in a small apartment for about two hours, on a high; I reckon she deserves a medal.

One day I hope to take my girls over for a carnival season, considering how much they like to dress up, they’d have an absolute ball.

When you were a kid, did you like to dress up?

About Iris B

Iris Blobel was born and raised in Germany and only immigrated to Australia in the late 1990s. Having had the travel bug most of her life, Iris spent quite some time living in Scotland, London as well as Canada where she actually had met her future husband. Her love for putting her stories onto paper has only recently emerged, but now her laptop is a constant companion. Iris resides west of Melbourne with her husband and her beautiful two daughters as well as her dog. Next to her job at a private school she also presents a German Program at the local Community Radio
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12 Responses to Valentine or Helau ?

  1. That sounds WONDERFUL,Iris! Like a cross between Mardi Gras (same principle, same reasons) and the way we celebrate Halloween…only longer and on a bigger scale. That is more like what Jillian and I were discussing on FB; we feel like we sacrifice a great deal all year, instead of ‘giving up’ for Lent,we thought about finding a way for us to celebrate and indulge ourselves longer!
    [Jillian, we should strive to get to Germany next year! …yeah, right!]
    I am glad that you let us in on this. I would love to be part of this,

    Like

    • Iris B says:

      Yes, mardi gras is french for “Fat Tuesday” … in a sense eat richly before the fasting begins. You’d love the carnival in Germany, it’s a wonderful time to be over there!

      Like

  2. I grew up in a Pennsylvania German area of the U.S. The day before lent was Fastnacht Day, and we feasted on greasy donuts with syrup or powdered sugar. I now live in south Louisiana and have to say Mardi Gras sure beats having one day of donuts and has much more in common with the Mainz celebration. Having lived in Germany for a while, I’ve been to Mainz but never during carnival unfortunately. Sounds great. Do try to get to New Orleans one day for their rowdy version.

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    • Iris B says:

      OF COURSE !!!!!!!! How could I forget the doughnuts …. or as we would say “Kreppel”. Man, I loved them, especially at that age you didn’t have to keep track of what you ate. LOL…. It’s great to hear that small things like that (even though not all of the carnival festivities) had made its way across the sea and was kept as a tradtion.
      Hope you enjoyed your stay in Germany, and I hope you liked Mainz. It’s a big town with a “small town” atmosphere I reckon! Thank you for stopping by Carla and telling us about that tradtion in Pennsylvania. Much appreciated!

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  3. jeff7salter says:

    I never cared all that much for Mardi Gras. Though I did “go” to see a few local parades, both in South LA. and NW LA., I never once went to the big New Orleans celebrations, despite that city being only about 40 miles from my hometown (Covington).
    To answer your question, Iris: when I was a kid, my fav. costuming was as Davy Crockett. Second fav. was cowboy.
    So tell us more about your witch and ‘punk’ costumes.

    Like

    • Iris B says:

      Yeah I thought a “cowboy” would be a popular costume …. obviously, Jeff, you will have to visit the German carnival one day !!! You’ll love it. At least I think so …. LOL
      As for me as a witch … and a punk … well what can I say …. they say one matures with age, I wasn’t very old then – obviously … LOL

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  4. Sherry Gloag says:

    It sounds like a wonderful festival. Thanks for sharing.

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  5. Love it! I’m fascinated by traditions of all cultures and this one sounds wonderful

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  6. Meg Mims says:

    COOL stuff, Iris! I’m not into big carnivals or parades, but it sure sounds like fun for most peeps.

    Like

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