I am well aware that Ash Wednesday was last week, and that in most of the world, Carnival, Mardi Gras or what have you was before Ash Wednesday. For some reason, some places in Switzerland have their party after Lent has started. Today is the last day of a three-day extravaganza in Basel, for example.
In Switzerland the craziness is called Fasnacht, in parts of Germany and in Austria it is Fasching.
My friend, Lynn, is visiting from California and wanted to go to Basel for part of the celebration/craziness. It was on our list of things to do, but on Sunday we opted to see the Zürich parade since it was right here in our own backyard.
As we were wandering the city, we saw people all dressed up for the parade.
The band called The Lady Killers was warming up and playing “Take Me Home, Country Roads” as they worked their way to the start of the parade.
We were early enough to get a prime spot up high to watch the colorful goings-on. We looked up to see people had congregated on the plaza by the Grossmuenster and went up to join them.
This turned out to be quite advantageous for two reasons. The first is that it was a good view for the beginning of the parade. The second was that we saved ourselves from being covered in confetti. This was our view about 20 minutes before the parade started. A fair number of people were lining up to watch already. It would get much more full very soon.
The costumes were of such a variety – from hags and furry animals, to people in traditional dress.
There were so many marching bands, each one separated from the other by only one group of costumed people so that the sounds would “blend” together.
One guy was throwing out red clown noses (but not up to where we were).
The paraders would sometimes grab a child and swing them around, or carry them across the street before returning them to their place. This group was throwing hay around, then grabbing people and stuffing them into the wagon filled with hay. We were safe.
The last third of the parade was devoted to people from Peru and Bolivia. What dancing! What music!
By the end of the parade we were pretty cold, so we took off a little early. When we checked the weather report for Basel, we decided that we were happy to have seen Fasnacht right here, and that we didn’t need to travel to see another one, and that we could do other things with our sightseeing time.