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Black Forest Carnival, Germany

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What is the Black Forest Carnival?

Black Forest Carnival or Fasnet isa celebration that takes place in various communities in Baden-Württemberg and other southern regions of Germany. Black Forest Carnival celebrations are somewhat unique, as they do not feature the traditional elements of the cheerful German carnival as in many other areas of the country. The Black Forest Carnival mixes elements of the Middle Ages which makes for somewhat frightening and dark festivities.

The festivities are characterized by their dark tone, as their purpose is to transport you back in time to experience an ancient and mysterious era. However, it is still a carnival celebration, so the dancing, music, theatrical elements, laughter and drinking remain one of the main elements of the Black Forest Carnivals.


 

Carnivals in the Black Forest are especially about reflecting on the humble and simple life of historical times, including traditional carnival elements such as parades and street parties. The streets of the main cities and towns are filled with traditional and historical atmosphere during the month of February.  During carnival month, evil spirits rule the cities, so people dress up in frightening costumes to scare them away. It is a full week of celebration in which terrifying masks and ancient artifacts take to the streets to hunt spirits.

The Black Forest Carnival has gained quite a reputation due to its large number of characters, which usually appear in groups consisting of a single character or several figures that complement each other. Usually, the characters interact with each other. One of the most traditional forms is through theatrical performances such as battles or being punished with whips. In some areas of the Black Forest, there are unique characters that often play a central role in the local tradition. However, over time, some characters have become particularly popular and you can usually find them at any of the celebrations in the region.

 

 

The Black Forest Carnival is a celebration that combines modernity and the Middle Ages

The Black Forest Carnival is a celebration that combines modernity and the Middle Ages

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When is the Black Forest Carnival

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The Black Forest Carnival festivities always begin before Lent and usually culminate on Ash Wednesday. However, some carnival ceremonies are held as early as January, while in other regions the carnival extends a week after Shrove Monday.

 

 

History of the Black Forest Carnivals

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Middle Ages and the Modern Age

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Like many other carnival celebrations in the country, the Black Forest Carnival is related to the breakfast festivities before the beginning of Lent. These events have been documented in Europe, especially in central Europe since the 13th century. However, carnival celebrations were different between regions and vastly different from the carnivals we know today. The uncontrolled consumption of food, dances, parades and games began to gain notoriety during the 14th century.

For several centuries, there had been a conflict between the celebration of carnivals and Lent. This conflict was due to the fact that Fastnacht or Carnival acquired devilish, anti-religious, commonplace and improper elements, while Lent was the idea of thekingdom of God and civic practices. In this way, the first carnival figures may have emerged, which were represented as demons, witches and jesters. In addition, while some historians believe that carnivals are a tradition separate from the church, others indicate that the existence of the church was necessary for the existence of this duality, which, if it had not existed, would not have the current characteristics. Likewise, the church always presented some resistance to the practice of carnivals due to their profane characteristics.

 



After the reformation, many regions ofCentral Europe stopped celebrating carnivals. However, the tradition was kept alive in Protestant cities for some time through private celebrations. Before the Baroque era, carnival costumes were extremely simple. However, once the Baroque emerged in the early 17th century, the costumes, figures and elements of Fastnacht began to be crafted in a more refined and cleaner manner. The traditional masks made of clay and paper began to be carved in wood, and they began to be influenced by Italian styles based on the artistic movements.

 

Carnival revival

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Carnival was still presented as a primitive and obsolete tradition, despite its modernization after the rise of the Baroque movement. For this reason, people still viewed carnivals with some suspicion, being banned for a while. With the rise of romanticism, carnivals began to develop more rapidly. Carnivals began to emerge in some regions of the country such as Cologne, where it was increasingly organized and quickly became established in much of Central Europe.

Ancient Fastnacht was still spotted in some rural regions of the country, as people in the areas felt especially connected to the ancient traditions. Over time, severalcarnival brotherhoods were founded, creating a wide range of organizations that were responsible for maintaining and developing the traditions of the original carnivals.

 

Modern Carnivals

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In the early 20th century the Fastnacht were mainly local or regional hometown celebrations. In addition, the guilds began to organize and actively represent their political interests due to the situation of political instability and restrictions on carnivals in the various regions. Moreover, that their purpose was topromote and preserve their culture, a goal still held by the vast majority of carnival organizations in Germany.

Since then, dozens ofFastnacht characters have been created, thanks to the reform and organization of the various guilds. Although the carnivals still have historic characters that have been around since the beginning of the festivities, new guilds design innovative characters that are seen more frequently year after year.

Today, the Black Forest Carnival is made up of several celebrations especiallyin southern Germany. The different localities redesign hundreds of characters, adapting them to their traditions and way of life. In addition, thecreation of characters, masks and costumes is one of the traditions that most strongly permeates the identity of the locals, which is why participating in this type of event is considered honorary.

 

Where is the Black Forest Carnival

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Black Forest Carnivals are celebrated in the various localities, areas and cities that are located in southwestern Germany, Europe.

The Black Forest is a mountainous ensemble of a large and diverse forest density, mainly belonging to the state Baden-Württemberg, although it is also located in other adjacent areas. The federal state of Baden-Württemberg has a total area of about 35,751 square kilometers and is home to more than 11 million people.

The federal state of Baden-Württemberg consists of 4 regions: Karlsruhe, Stuttgart, Tübingen and Freiburg. In addition, it is made up of 35 other rural districts within the administrative regions.

 

Black Forest Carnival costumes take reference to historical events or legends

The Black Forest Carnival costumes take reference to historical events or legends

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How the Black Forest Carnival is celebrated

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Although theCarnival celebrations strictly begin on Carnival Thursday, some regions often hold certain preparations, recipes and ceremonies that begin as early as January. For example, in some regions thejesters hold meetings to discuss matters regarding the carnival, go on door-to-door tours to “dust off” their costumes or ask for old artifacts from the houses and clean the homes of everything old. In addition, there is also the tradition of cleaning the feet during these dates with cold water from the mountains.

During the month of February there are also some small activities such as dressing up inCarnival costumes and masks and publicizing the incidents or highlights of the previous year’s celebrations. In addition, they also hold certain dance events, small parades and warm-up activities. The Carnival.

The Black Forest Carnival in Germany is popular for having a large number of masked characters. Below, we offer you some of these characters are particularly famous:

 

Devilish Figures

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These characters were created in the 19th century and are one of the most popular and oldest figures of the celebration of the Black Forest Carnivals. These costumes are also called “Kleidle” and some are several hundred years old. In some regions you can find guilds that are dedicated to the exclusive use of this character that represented a diabolical figure that used to be in parts of the Black Forest.

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Buffaloes

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They are also baked as Narren and appeared almost at the same time as the evil figures. As we had mentioned to you, some characters change according to the region and this is one of the cases. In the Baar region, there is a version called “Weißnarr” or white buffoon, while in Villingen one can find the “Narro” and in Donaueschingen, Hefingen, Immendingen and Bräunlingen one finds the “Hansel”. Likewise, another version is the Biß from the Rottweil area.

The previously mentioned Weißnarr is usually represented by men. However, some areaccompanied by a woman during parades, who often do not wear a particular costume, but wear traditional dress of the region. The costume of the Weißnarris made of white linen, dyed or embroidered. However, some versions such as the Blätzlenarr, Spättlenarr or Fleckennarr tend to look a bit more rudimentary and of brown or “jungle” tones. Nowadays the costumes are much more refined and better crafted.

The Spättlehansel is one of the most particular versions of the costume, as it has masks that move their jaws, transforming the traditional ones into a real show a bit scary.

 

Traditional and Historical Figures

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Many of theBlack Forest Carnival figures date back to events, as is the case with the newly created post-war characters attributed to theWilde Peoples or Wilde Leute in German. These character types are usually attributed to local stories or events in history. Many of today’s guilds attribute their new creations to regional legends or stories from old traditions.

 

Witches

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Witches are characters that, as mentioned above, are the result of local stories and legends that have been transformed into figures of the Black Forest Carnival.

 

Animal figures

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Some characters attach animal elements as in the case of the hoorigen Bären or hairy bear, whose attire consists of alarge tangle of cloth or the der Nachtkrabb or night raven, which has bird-like characteristics.

The characteristic characters of the Black Forest Carnival have made the festivities to be identified as an out-of-the-ordinary event. In addition, some of the characters interact with the public, making some kind of game or including them in their theatrical presentations. The activities can range from a simple tap with a balloon, throwing confetti or forcing you to sing or participate in some activity..

 

Once the carnival festivities begin there are some more noteworthy events within the festivities:

Schmotziger Dunschtig or Shrove Thursday

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This is one of the most important days of the festivities, as it is the day when the carnivals are “awakened”. Usually the jesters take the keys of the town hall, which means that they have control of the city or town where they live. In addition, at night people generally congregate wearing white clothes.

 

Fasnetmendig or Shrove Monday

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In some regions of Germany, especially in the adjacent Rhine River, people call this day as the “Rosenmontag”. During this day the streets are filled with large crowds tocelebrate with costumes, events, parades and activities related to the characters and their personalities.

The dparades are accompanied by drums, music, Guggemusik bands, costumes of the locals with their respective costumes and decorated floats. The characters during the events usually jump off their floats to catch the spectators unawares and throw confetti at them or perform some penance.

In addition, carnivals also feature a lot of cultural activities and events aimed at children. Also, during the parades the characters may makedeliveries or throw candy and treats from their floats into the crowd, so be on the lookout to catch a few.

 

Tips for going to the Black Forest Carnivals

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If you want to participate in the Black Forest Carnivals, remember to plan your trip in advance,make an itinerary of activities andbook your trip in advance. Also, be sure to pack clothes that will keep you warm during the holidays, as the temperature stays below 6 degrees Celsius in the month of February.

If you are a first-timer to the festivities and want to have some quiet celebrations, we recommend staying out of the parade border area. We know you want to see everything in the front row, but you also risk being caught off guard and becoming a part of the parade.

Avoid wearing bright colors so that the characters don’t see you easily. Try to use neutral colors and no ornaments, if you want to pass unnoticed. If it is not important for you to be seen by the characters that are part of the event, then wear your clothes as you are used to.

 

Events at the Black Forest Carnival

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Epiphany

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During Epiphany certain events take place that are part of several important ceremonies for the carnival guilds. On January 6 (Epiphany) the brotherhoods or groupings normally hold meetings to organize the event. However, in some localities, witches and jesters roam the streets and visit houses to obtain old junk from homes. In addition, some guilds perform cleansing and initiation ceremonies.

 

Fiesta de la Candelaria

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On the second day of the month of February, many guilds in the different localities gather to highlight the most imperative events of the previous year’s carnival celebration. During this day, some localities also hold celebrations with dances, songs and theatrical presentations.

 

Schmotziger Dunschtig

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It takes place onthe Thursday before Ash Wednesday. This day celebrates the awakening of the carnivals. The jesters and other characters take to the streets to claim their space and take the keys to the city. This day commemorates the beginning of the carnivals and fulfills a symbolism that, for the next few days, the jesters and revelers are in charge. In some regions they hold special ceremonies and parades.

 

 

Fasnetfridig or Shrove Friday

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This day is dedicated to the participation of children. During the day there are various public and recreational activities such as dances and games.

 

Fasnetsunndig or Sunday

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People begin to start the engines, performing various warm-up activities to start the carnivals on the right foot.

 

Fasnetmendig and Fasnetzyschdig or Shrove Monday and Shrove Tuesday

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These are the days with the highest participation, as this is the day when most of the important carnival events take place. The streets are flooded with visitors who line the edges of the streets to see the hundreds of costumes, masks and floats designed by the different guilds. The masked people engage in mischief and little pranks on visitors or perform a series of theatrical presentations for the enjoyment of the spectators.

Some locales also have ceremonies during these days consisting ofcommemorative events and burning effigies that usually represent winter or evil spirits. With these ceremoniesthey usher in spring, better crops and more pleasant temperatures for the coming months.

 

Aschermittwoch or Ash Wednesday

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During this day already religious celebrations begin, therefore, people stop celebrating and devote themselves fully to fasting traditions and the prohibition of foods such as red meat.

 

The witches of the Black Forest Carnival are one of the main characters

The witches of the Black Forest Carnival are one of the main characters

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Black Forest Carnival Parades

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The parades are the most anticipated events of the celebrations. These are composed of hundreds of guilds attending the streets with their masks. Many of these groupings or guilds wear traditional masks that are as old as the carnivals, while others with new creations inspired by event, legends or important historical points.

During the parade events, you get to see large and elaborate floats that take to the streets, on some of them are characters that throw candy, sweets and chocolates to the spectators. Some of the characters get off their floats to play tricks on visitors or force them to participate in different activities.

If you are shy or timid or are your first experiences during these carnivals, stay alert so as not to fall victim to these characters, whose only purpose is to watch the world burn.

 

Parade route

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Guilds take to the streets in costume during the Black Forest Carnival

Guilds take to the streets in costume during the Black Forest Carnival

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The parades take place in the various regions or rural areas that fall within the jurisdiction of the federal state of Baden-Württemberg. However, they also take place within the adjacent areas of the state.

Each locality, region or city establishes its own parade route within its jurisdiction.

 

Fasnetsküchle is a typical carnival dish

Fasnetsküchle is a typical carnival dish

 

What to eat at the Black Forest Carnival

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As in many regions of Europe, Germany also has some distinctive dishes that are eaten exclusively at carnivals. Usually, the dishes tend to be sweet or loaded with fats, butters and creams because they were foods that were generally not eaten during Lent.

One of the sweets consumed in the region during the carnival festivities are the Fasnetsküchle. These are strips of dough made with flour, eggs and sugar that are put to fry in plenty of oil. Once cooked, they are sprinkled with powdered sugar and served.

Other typical holiday sweets are the Krapfen, also known as Berliner. These are traditional doughnuts made with flour, butter, eggs, milk and sugar. Once prepared, they are placed to fry in abundant oil and sprinkled with powdered sugar. They can also be filled with jams or creams.

In addition, you can also eat in the various cities and towns that the state has to offer. We recommend some of the places in Stuttgart, the capital of Baden-Wurttemberg: Weinstube Am Stadtgraben, CUBE Restaurant, Pier 51 Restaurant & Bar and Restaurant Christophorus. These offer a wide variety of German, Central European and international food.

 

Krapfen are sweet donuts eaten during carnivals

Krapfen are sweet donuts eaten during carnivals

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Travel Insurance

 

From Carnavalesdelmundo.org we recommend to hire a good insurance to visit this carnival and to know the rest of the country. For being our readers we offer a 5% discount on all IATI insurance. Read more information about all insurance offers here:

 

 

What to see and do inside the Black Forest Carnival

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Within the carnivals you can participate in the different events that take place in the different areas of the state. Some regions offer diverse cultural events that you can attend or form to miss.

You cannot miss the parades that take place in the streets of the different regions of the state, as this is the main event of the festivities. In the parades you can find agreat number of characters and floats that will leave you wanting to come back next year.

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What to see and do outside of the Black Forest Carnivals

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Some of the most important attractions in the federal state of Baden-Wurttemberg are:

Freiburg Minster

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It is the cathedral of Freiburg. Its construction took place during the eleventh century and has Gothic aspects. Its facade is square and has some statues of great historical and religious value. Inside you can find altars and windows of various images and multiple colors.

 

Heidelberg Castle

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This is the ruins of Heidelberg Castle. The structure dates back to 1214 and since its demolition some sectors and areas of the entire building have been restored.

 

Europa-Park

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It is a large amusement park full of activities for both children and adults. In addition, they offer food stalls and wonderful shows.

Also if you want to visit museums and important buildings in this city we recommend that you book your ticket in advance through Tiquets: .

Book tickets in the city you are visiting

 

Safety at the Black Forest Carnival

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The state of Baden-Wurttemberg is generally quite safe. In fact, it is one of the safest states in the country. However, we recommend some caution, especially in the big cities like Stuttgart, so that you don’t fall victim to pickpocketing and robbery.

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Climate at the Black Forest Carnival

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The weather in the state of Baden-Wurttemberg are usually quite cold, with temperatures staying below 6 degrees Celsius down to -6 degrees Celsius. We recommend that you pack a warm coat for the holidays.

 

The Black Forest Carnival integrates historical elements and legends in its costumes

The Black Forest Carnival integrates historical elements and legends in its costumes

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How to get to the Black Forest Carnival

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How to get there by plane

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The state’s main airport is the one located in its capital, Stuttgart. The airport is recognized by the name Stuttgart Airport, which receives a good number of both domestic and international flights. From here you can use the different means of transportation to reach the city or town of your choice.

We recommend buying airline tickets through Kiwi.com or Skyscanner where they are usually cheaper. More information on this link to review Kiwi.com..

 

How to get there by train

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All major cities in the state are connected through the train service of Deutsche Bahn. In addition, it also receives trains from other areas of the country at a fairly affordable price.

 

How to get there by bus

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The larger cities and rural areas of the state usually have their own bus stations that you can use to transport you throughout the state of Baden-Württemberg..

 

How to get there by car

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The state ofBaden-Württemberg has main thoroughfares, roads and highways that you can use to get from one city to another in no time.

 

Where to stay at the Black Forest Carnival

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Booking.com

 

Aloft Stuttgart

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4-star hotel 1.9 km from Stuttgart city center. Rooms feature TV and private bathroom with shower. Facilities include gym, bar, parking and free Wi-Fi.

 

Hotel Zuckerfabrik

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3-star hotel 5 km from Stuttgart city center. Rooms are equipped with TV and private bathroom with shower. The hotel offers airport transfers, terrace, room service or wifi.

 

Park Inn by Radisson Stuttgart

4-star hotel 5 km from Stuttgart city center. Rooms have air conditioning, desk and bathroom with hairdryer. Facilities have bar, gym, restaurant, parking and free wifi.

We recommend using Booking.com to book hotels at a good price, check more information here:

 


Booking.com

 

Thanks for reading

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