“Look deep into nature, and you will understand everything better.” My group of international travel bloggers and I did go for this deep look – deep into the nature of the local Black Forest traditions. As part of our itinerary #JoinGermanTradition, we went in search for what essentially makes up German traditions, and what better time of the year for experiencing those traditions than the actual carnival season?
Schramberg is a place you should have heard of. Once a year, the locals literally go “out of their minds”, bursting from a well-behaved German town into a flurry of colours, screams – and confetti.
It is hard to imagine all those people having “straight jobs & straight faces” in their usual, everyday lives. Not during carnival, that is. “Als Bürgermeister musst Du alles mitmachen hier!” We meet with the mayor of town in his funny dress-up gown, who tells us not without pride that you “just have to play along”: It’s carnival after all! Normal to meet larger-than-life sized cats in the streets. Have tipsy fishermen sing their songs for you in a bar, completely dressed up of course. Find that you are actually wearing stupid hats and glasses yourself. And admiring the sense of community that rules the streets of Schramberg during this exceptional and rather ecstatic time of year.
The city of Rottweil, Schramberg’s “carnival partner in crime”, has us get out of bed as early as six in the morning: “Narrensprung” it is in the sense of living German traditions!
#JoinGermanTradition in all its glory: Every now and then, you do become reminded that despite all the ecstasy, noise, colours & costumes, you are actually still in Germany. It is winter (the middle of February), and the “Narrensprung” parade starts at 8.00 a.m. sharp on a Monday morning, only to last exactly two and a half hours into the day. Fascinating – despite the -7°C degrees of the morning hours ..! (Note: A warm coffeehouse is always nearby).
Traditionally, the dress-up of people turned cats, rats, dogs, jesters, etc. marks the chasing-away of the evil (winter) spirits, as well as a period of ecstasy right before the start of religious fastening all the way to Easter in the spring. It also tells of the rather rebellious spirit towards people of the upper ruling classes and nobility of the time, embodied in the character of the cat: “The cat has always been admired for going its own way. Once a year, we all dress up as cats or jesters, essentially to become one on the same level: Status, social class, individual clothing etc. are disappearing as we all look the same! And our greeting to people in the street is the same, too: Wohohohooo … Wohohohooo!”
Yeah rite? Oh, I just love watching the Germans go wild …! 😀
The fun, however, does not stop there. Once a year, in addition to the carnival, Schramberg celebrates a thing called “Bach-Na-Fahrt”, essentially going wild on water!
If you think of street parades as boring to stand and watch, think again: “River parades” might just be your thing! Once a year, the icy river waters of Schramberg are home to forty different dancing dinghies, each built with “tender loving care” in the fashion of local themes and funny, clever, or simply absurd details. It still is carnival, after all! Throw in German ingenuity mixed with poetry, tapestry, even chivalry on little river boats, and you will come close to imagining the themes of the Black Forest “Bach-Na-Fahrt”.
Have a look at even more happy, colourful stories from our carnival trip through the Black Forest on any of my friends’ travel blogs listed here:
- “Carneval en Allemagne: 15 Photos de Schramberg“
- “Rottweil Fasnet 2015 – YouTube Video“
- “Making Time: The Cuckoo Clock Tradition“
- “Black Forest, Germany’s Traditional Bollenhut Hat“
- “Panun Matkat: Schwarzwald“
Disclaimer: I have been invited by the German National Tourist Board to ” #JoinGermanTradition ” on this creative culture trip to the Black Forest. All opinions are my own.