Suddenly yesterday H is dressing up as Robin Hood and going to school for a carnival, whilst at my school the announcement is made that lessons next Tuesday will finish at 1pm. The word Fasching is everywhere and I find myself culturally confused, once again. As I settle down with a coffee and my lap top, in the late afternoon, a story in the Austrian Times tells me that Fasching is less popular than it used to be, particularly in Vienna. The article still leaves me a little confused but I have discovered that ‘43 per cent of people living in Austria are celebrating the festival known as, Karneval in Germany and Carnival elsewhere this year’.
So with H excitedly telling me about the Rock Band that came to perform at her school party and describing all the fancy dress costumes that her friends had been wearing, I decide it’s time to do a little net based research. Why was I turning to the net? Well the responses from R to my questions boiled down to ‘well it’s Faching’. When pressed a little further she paused and said ‘everyone in Austria is miserable in February so we have a party or it’s something like that’.
Turning to Encyclopaedia Britannica I discovered: ‘Fasching, the Roman Catholic Shrovetide carnival as celebrated in German-speaking countries. There are many regional differences concerning the name, duration, and activities of the carnival. It is known as Fasching in Bavaria and Austria, Fosnat in Franconia, Fasnet in Swabia, Fastnacht in Mainz and its environs, and Karneval in Cologne and the Rhineland……… truly rambunctious revelry associated with Fasching usually reaches its high point during the three days preceding Ash Wednesday, culminating on Shrove Tuesday. The names of these final days also vary regionally………. After the Reformation, Protestant areas of Europe took exception to such Roman Catholic excesses, and carnival practices began to die out in them’.
So now I’m a little more culturally aware and ready for the party.