Growing up, my family didn’t have too many cultural traditions. We lived in Germany during all of my years in elementary school, never living on the military base. Naturally, we partook in a few cultural traditions while living in Germany: Nicklaus Day, The Celebration of St. Martin, and my favorite, Fasching.
Fasching is basically Carnival/Mardi Gras, the festivities before Lent begins. Fasching typically begins on the 11th day of November at 11:11 a.m., or the day after Dreikönigstag (Three Kings Day), and ends the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday.
The festivities culminate in one big party spanning the week before Ash Wednesday. The events are as follows (courtesy of http://german.about.com/od/culture/tp/Fasching-In-Germany.htm ):
· Weiberfastnacht - Thursday before Ash Wednesday. This is mainly an event held in the Rhineland. The day begins with women storming into and symbolically taking over city hall. Then, women throughout the day will snip off men's ties and kiss any man that passes their way. The day ends with people going to local venues and bars in costume.
· Parties, Celebrations and Parades - People will celebrate in costume at various carnival community events and individual parties. Carnival parades abound, it is literally the weekend for people to live it up.
· Rosenmontag - The largest and most popular carnival parades take place on the Monday before Ash Wednesday. These parades come mostly from the Rhineland region. People throughout the German-speaking countries will tune in to watch the biggest German carnival parade of all which is held in Cologne.
· Fastnachtsdienstag - Besides some parades which are held on this day, you have the burial or burning of the Nubbel. A Nubbel is a life-size doll made of straw that embodies all of the sins committed during carnival season. It is buried or burned with great ceremony on Tuesday evening before everyone parties one more time till Ash Wednesday arrives.
I grew up in the Rhineland, in Mainz, Germany, so we had one of the biggest parades in the country. Every year, my parents would have us dress up in our favorite costume and take us to the parades where we would shout “Helau” and have candy thrown at us from the floats. Polka music abound, my family and I danced with our German neighbors and celebrated like locals.