Mardi Gras in Germany

  • UPDATED Sep 06, 2018
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1. Introduction

Mardi Gras in Germany is one of the most popular events or carnival, which takes place every year. It usually takes place about six weeks before Easter or probably one week to 10 days leading up to the beginning of Lent. 

The beginning of Mardi Gras starts with the famous Rose Monday parade and what it includes is the epic Karneval floats which bear loads of people who are dressed in a variety of costumes. These people throw loads of candy bars to the people, just like in New Orleans Mardi Gras where they throw coins and necklace.

2. What are the different words used for Mardi Gras?

In Germany, they say Karneval or Fasching and Fastnacht for Mardi Gras. All of these words, even though mean the same thing, reflect different traditions as well as customs in various regions of Germany. The dates may also be different, such as Fasnacht celebration take place mostly after Ash Wednesdays. 

Different regions all over Germany, of course, have different ways and have different carnival traditions. For example - The Rhineland has its Karneval, Austria, Bavaria, and Berlin have named it Fasching, and Southern Germany, as well as Switzerland, celebrate it as Fastnacht.

3. A deep dive into what Carnival means for Germans 

Just a holistic view of what carnival means to these people is that it’s a season of great food, crazy parties, and total fun before the period of Lent begins.  

The dates of the carnival are usually by the 11th of November, but since there is so much happening around these months that February becomes the official time for these parades to take off. 

4. German Mardi Gras Traditions that are a must to experience

The Bavarian Fasching – Commonly known as the Muchen Parade is the main celebration which takes places along with great music and party all around.  The major attraction is the Sunday parade of the Dark Knights. It’s lead by Duke Kasimir and followed by a group of clowns, knights, floats, and bands. All in all, it looks really colorful and exciting.

Even better that it is followed by an amazing party too at a place called Hofbräuhaus around 2:30 p.m. If you want to be part of this exciting carnival, then it is recommended that you wear either black or white clothes in order to be able to attend one of the famous Schwarz-Weiß-Bälle, and a prerequisite to this is that it requires wearing either all white or all black.

5. Going back to Traditions

Fastnacht — commonly known as The Rottweil Parade is one of the most traditional in all of Germany. Here, all the participants wear wooden carved masks, which give the whole carnival a more traditional look. They then dance to the amazing sing Fool’s march and hop on one leg while they sing that together. 

Masks are hard to find here, so if you plan to attend this, be careful if you get hold of a mask or even a costume, since they are usually handed down from the past generation. On Rosenmontag, a band of trumpet players’ wake up the city at 5:00 am, so be prepared for this, and make a schedule in order to wake up early.  This carnival is a great option to prolong your Mardi Gras experience.  

Karneval is a time of masked balls and merry parades all over Köln, and here women dress up fancier than normal even while doing their daily routine. It’s full of fun, laughter, and merrymaking, and the way people come dressed is what makes it so exciting. The best part is that you exchange candies, flowers and even kisses between strangers, which Is perfectly normal here. 

6. The art form of Mardi Gras 

The Büttenrede is one of the most traditional art forms of German Mardi Gras and is specially written for the celebrations each year. Commoners here are allowed to criticize powerful men without any fear in them. People read poems which has an aura of sarcasm to it, and they make humorous comments about the government and politics.  

7. The Popular German Goulash Soup 

Lastly, Goulash Soup is one of the main delicacies of this popular festival and is made with venison, beef or a mix of beef with pork. You can also add some red wine to it for the feel of the festival. Add salt, great spice, some paprika, and garlic as well as some diced peppers, and you would be good to go. 

This is amazingly delicious and is said to be a must-have if you are attending the mardi gras festival, and trust us, it's pretty easy to make this at home. 

8. Conclusion

Thus, you can see that there is a bit of something for everyone out there at Mardi Gras. Germans celebrate it with a sense of style and passion, and it remains as one of the most important festivals for them. You can do what you like here, be free as a bird, drink loads of beer or even attend a ball here. And all this starts early in the morning, making it a refreshing change for you. 

It is the last night of eating great fatty foods, before fasting for the 40 days of the Lent period. The best day is Fat Tuesday, which is just one day before Ash Wednesday, and this is when the fasting begins. So, on fat Tuesday, people gorge on all the things that they want to and eat until their heart desires. The King Cake made of Cinnamon and sugar, and fried in deep oil is a dish that is a ritual and a must have. The performances are really professional, and they have dancers who have mastered their dance moves. And at midnight, people remove their masks after the masquerade party to reveal who they actually are. Germans know how to party, and on Mardi Gras, they do it in style.