Karneval, Southern German Fasnet and Mardi Grass
I’m from southern Germany and on my recharges on those traditions (southern German fasnet) I found a lot of information in German language but a low number of English pages. So I want to start a little blog about it in English. With my first entry I want to give a little overview and historic background.
It is an old mostly catholic tradition to deplete food before the eater fasting period starts. It was not allowed to eat meat, eggs and milk before eater so there was a need to consume it before.
Most experts on history expect that the German name “Fastnacht” mean the night (Nacht) before the fasting (Fasten). Also they expect that the French “Mardi Grass” means fat Tuesday and that all fat food must be depleted on this day. In Germany there is the “Schmutziger Donnerstag” what means fat Thursday on the Thursday before. In a lot of literature you will find the hint that only a Tuesday was not enough to slaughter animals eat all the food and so the season moved from Tuesday to Thursday. Also because on Sunday, Saturday and Friday slaughter was forbidden by church or not possible.
For celebrating the last day before fasting the authority of church and state was not as strict as normal. Those was the feasting often very excessive. The tradition of covering of the face with masks was developed for those party’s. In the middle Ages, craftsman hat to travel from town to town and take those traditions with them.
All in all the traditions was very excessive and as in beginning of 18th century a middle class was formed they celebrate it more decent and organized. This was the start of Karneval which supplanted the Fasnet more and more.
So in 1903 only 9 people came to the traditional “Narrensprung” in Rottweil (Germany). This started a contra motion in the southern German area to go back to the old traditions.