THE FIFTH SEASON BEGINS
The Fifth Season, better known as Karneval begins on November 11th. The carnival season officially begins at 11 minutes past the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month in Germany when the Elferrat makes the announcement. It will suspend for Advent, and then kick back up into high gear after January 6th (Epiphany Heilige Drei Könige) so that everyone can get ready! In St. Louis this year, on November 11, 2016 the St. Louis-Stuttgart Sister Cities Inc Elferrat will announce this season’s reigning Prinz and Prinzessin on 11.11.16. This event is at St. Louis’ Hilton in Frontenac (1335 S. Lindbergh Blvd.) in the Clayton Ballroom at 6pm. Cost is $35 per person for a full evening of fun. Visit http://www.stl4stuttgart.com/ and get your ticket in a flash to start your Karneval Season off right!
There are different words in German for the Carnival or “Mardi Gras” Season: Karneval, Fasching and Fastnacht. Although all three refer to the same pre-Lenten holiday season, they each reflect the regional customs and traditions in Germany. Missouri Germans have immigrated from all over Germany for the past 175 years.
In Germany Karneval is the word used for the Rhenish (Rhineland) version of carnival in northwest Germany (except in Mainz), while the word Fasching refers to the similar celebration in southern Germany and Austria. The term Fasching is also seen and heard in Berlin and other parts of northern Germany. Fastnacht, mostly used in Swabia and Switzerland, is also used in the northern city of Mainz. However, that still does not mean that these words are interchangeable. Karneval, is a more modern (17th century), Latin-based word borrowed from French and Italian. The true origin of the word is uncertain. The German word used to be written with a C rather than today’s K-spelling.
The Carnevale in medieval Venice is one of the earliest documented carnival celebrations in the world. It featured still-popular traditions, including carnival parades, masks and masquerade balls. Gradually the Italian Carnevale customs spread north to other Catholic European countries, including France. From France it spread to the German Rhineland and, through colonization, even to North America (Mardi Gras). The word Fasching dates back to the 13th century and is derived from the Germanic word vaschanc or vaschang, in modern German: Fastenschank refers to the last serving of alcoholic beverages before Lent. In the 19th Century the 40-day Lenten period of fasting was strictly observed. People refrained from drinking alcohol or eating meat, milk products and eggs. The English word “fast” (to refrain from eating) is related to German fasten. And according to GermanWay.com “Fastnacht, refers to the Swabian-Alemannic carnival, which differs in some ways from Fasching and Karneval, and is found in Baden-Württemberg, Franconia (northern Bavaria), Hesse and much of Switzerland. Although this word looks like it comes from the German for the “eve of Lent,” in fact it is based on the Old German word fasen (“to be foolish, silly, wild”). Thus the word, sometimes spelled Fasnacht (without the t) actually means something like “night of being wild and foolish.”
In Germany parades are a big part of the celebration. The big day for Karneval is the Rose Monday parade, whereas the big Fasching parades are usually the day before, on Carnival Sunday. But according to some sources, one of Germany’s biggest carnival parades takes place in the northern German city of Braunschweig… “Schoduvel” (“scaring away the devil”), …which dates back to 1293.
Karneval in the United States
From GermanWay.com: “There are a few places in the USA noted for their carnival observances. The most famous, of course, is New Orleans and its big Mardi Gras. That has a lot to do with the French influence in Louisiana (which was named for the French king Louis XIV). Lafayette,
Louisiana also has its own Mardi Gras, as do Baton Rouge and several other Louisiana towns. There are good-sized carnival celebrations in Mobile, Alabama (since 1703!); Fredericksburg and Galveston, Texas; Biloxi, Mississippi and in Pensacola, Florida (dating from 1874). The Mardi Gras celebration in St. Louis, Missouri is a relatively recent development that only began in the 1980s. What began as a private party at a bar has now become a rather large event with corporate sponsors.”