When I tell Germans here that I came to my abroad program early and spent my time at the Fasching carnival, they roll their eyes and think me silly, but I think it was important for me to see. Fasching is a six-week pre-lenten carnival which is traditional to southern Germany. Kids don costumes for it, and bonbons are issued to them by masked performers who parade the streets. When I was a kid, I thought of it as a kind of Germanic halloween, but it's really more extensive than its American equivalent. Festivals carry on in town after town, one weekend after another, with bands and costumed parades.
Freiburg's carnival took place during my first weekend in Freiburg, where the inner city clogged with bands, vendors, and spectators. These photos are from the culmination: Rosenmontag, the 19th of February. On this day the streetcar service to downtown Freiburg was closed to make way for a big parade through the city which lasted all afternoon. There were more bands and people costumed as witches and fools, cranking on wooden noisemakers and distributing candies and peanuts to the children looking on.
And now for an odd story- While watching part of the parade go by, camera in hand, I felt the sensation that my backpack was lifting off my shoulders. Indeed, the man behind me was not-at-all-surreptitiously lifting it with his hands to test its weight. When I turned to look at him with an expression of earnest confusion, he commented on its heaviness and uttered a few sentences too thickly accented to comprehend. I struggled to respond and he reiterated, this time more simply: "Bier? Haben sie Bier drin?" No, not beer, lenses, I said, indicating the camera. He nodded understandingly, smiled and raised his own beer as an offer to a toast. Still confused, I awkwardly clinked his glass with my camera grip and off he went.