By Wendy Brown
U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden Public Affairs Office
It’s that time of year to shout a big “Hellau” and embrace the parades, costumes and hilarity of Germany’s Fasching season.
Fasching officially started on the 11th day of the 11th month, as it does every year, but it gets into full swing in early February. It leads up to Ash Wednesday and the 40 days of Lent. The occasion is a weeklong party where people hold parades, costume parties and other events to blow off a little steam before the solemn time of the year.
If you happen to be male and wear a tie, watch out Feb. 7, which is called Weiber Fastnacht and is the traditional time when women have the say and have been known to carry a pair of scissors to cut off the ties of men.
Wiesbaden residents are lucky to have easy access to the Fasching activities in two German state capitals. Wiesbaden is the capital of Hessen, and Mainz ― a short drive from Wiesbaden ― is the capital of Rhineland Pfalz.
The children’s festival in Wiesbaden starts at 10:33 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 9 in front the pedestrian area downtown. The children’s parade starts at 3:33 p.m. at Luisen Platz. and ends at the Rathaus. The big Fasching parade in Wiesbaden starts at 1:11 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 10 and Wilhelm Strasse is a good place to see the parade.
The high point of the festivities in the area Monday is the Rose Monday parade in Mainz that starts at 11:11 a.m. Feb. 11 on the Reduit Mainz-Kastel ― the city’s main square.
The Mainz parade is popular, but crowded. Those looking for a good, yet more subdued parade might prefer the one Saturday in Wiesbaden.
Fasching is a great time to get out and mingle, enjoy the carnival atmosphere and join in shouting “Hellau” along parade routes, but a few commonsense safety tips are recommended.
- Leave the car at home — parking is extremely difficult in the inner cities on parade days and public transportation offers a convenient alternative. Never mix drinking and driving.
- Keep an eye on younger parade-goers who may want to get too close to horses’ hooves and tractor wheels while trying to catch candy and other goodies thrown from parade floats.
- Dress warmly as parades continue for several hours.
- Don’t be offended when an overly excited reveler decides to share his or her enthusiasm (and alcoholic beverage) with you at one of the parades.
- Shout whatever the locals are shouting as the floats pass and keep your eye out for candy and other items thrown your way. You don’t want to get hit unaware.