Local traditions: Wiesbaden, Mainz to celebrate Fasching

It’s that time of year again.Germany is celebrating its “fifth season” — Fasching or Fastnacht. Get your Halloween costume back out of the closet and get ready to shout “Helau!” as loud as you can.

Every year, Fasching gets into full swing with big parades on the streets and fairs in the cities. Köln, Düsseldorf and Mainz are Germany’s “Fa-sching capitals.” The big party starts out on a Thursday — this year on Feb. 8, when women dress up in funny costumes and carry a pair of scissors to cut off the ties of men, literally cutting off the symbol of men’s power.

Saturday brings the first big parades to the cities. The city of Wiesbaden celebrates its “Kinderfest” on Saturday, Feb. 10, starting at 10 a.m., which terminates with a Fa-sching parade geared toward the younger generation. The parade marches through the downtown pedestrian area starting at 3:33 p.m. The city of Mainz also focuses on children in their “Jugendmaskenzug” (Youth Masked Parade) in which the local schools compete for the best costume in front of the State Theater where the parade ends. The parade starts at 2:11 p.m. at Boppstraße/Josefsstraße.

On Faschingssonntag, Feb. 11, people of Wiesbaden gather in the downtown area again to watch the Wiesbaden Fasching parade starting at 1:11 p.m. at Elsässer Platz. The pedestrian area in front of the city hall and Wilhelmstraße are good places to watch the parade, but those places also tend to be very crowded. The parade consists of floats that usually mock national and international politicians or subjects that were newsworthy, but it also consists of marching bands and troops on foot. However, some people just go to collect candy.

The high point of the festivities is Rosenmontag, or Rose Monday. The parade in Mainz is one of the biggest in the country and features almost 100 carnival societies with almost 10,000 active participants from Mainz and other European cities. The first time this parade was held was in 1838. The parade starts at 11:11 a.m. at Boppstraße and marches about 7.2 kilometers through the downtown area. Good places to watch the parade are Schillerplatz and in front of the State Theater. However, these are also the most crowded places, because that is where TV cameras will broadcast the event live to the major German TV stations.

Bring a bag, because candy and small toys will be tossed from the big floats. After the parade, make sure to go to the market place in front of the cathedral where there will be a fair with carousels, Bratwurst and even more candy.