I suppose it’s no small wonder that in a country that’s so dreary during winter, there is a long standing tradition and holiday almost made for cheering you up. That certainly seems to be one of the reasons that Germans in the Rhineland always look forward to celebrating Fasching, or the fünfte Jahreszeit (the fifth season). Fasching actually has its roots in the German Catholic tradition, and can be compared with Carnival as celebrated in Brazil, or of course, Mardi Gras in New Orleans. Fasching is a time to cut loose, celebrate, and get a little crazy before the somber season of Lent. Fasching is not celebrated everywhere in Germany, and the biggest celebrations are in Cologne, Mainz, and Düsseldorf. Fortunately for me, Mainz is only about an hour and a half away, so I decided to hop on the train and take part in the festivities.
In Mainz, the season of Fasching, which actually begins on the 11th of November at 11:11am, culminates in the celebration of Rosenmontag, literally “Rose Monday.” Rosenmontag always takes place on the Monday before Ash Wednesday. People from all over Germany come to Mainz dressed in ridiculous costumes, often in Mainz’s Fasching colors, red, white, blue, and yellow. The main event is a huge parade that proceeds through the heart of Mainz. There are marching bands, costumed groups, baton-twirlers, and floats, which are often themed to mock current political issues or leaders of the day.
Fasching is a celebration for all, and everyone from families to the elderly to University students dress up, have a drink (or a few (though not the children)), and greet each other with the traditional Fasching greeting “Hellau!” Along with some pictures, I also took some video footage, so take some time to enjoy a first-person view from the street.