The Swiss love their traditions and they love to celebrate the transition from winter to spring during so called “Fasnacht”. Almost all 26 cantons in Switzerland have developed their unique traditions and conventions, which often reach to old pre-Christian times.
The name “Fastnacht” relates to the upcoming 40-day fasting period. 40 days long? This is definitely an additional reason to celebrate with colorful costumes, “Guggen”-music, lots of confetti in the air and smiling faces.
Fasnacht is very popular all over Switzerland, but Luzern Fasnacht is often described by the locals as one of the best, funniest with most attractions. A real Fasnacht always needs its “Guggenmusik” coming from artists playing various brass instruments. It is important for them to play a song a little bit inaccurate, so the listener feels the slightly “spooky” ambience. The masks on the picture below are called “Larven”, which means larvae.
It’s 5 o’clock in the morning and snowing a little bit in Luzern. In the early daybreak of “Schmutzigä Donnschtig” (dirty Thursday) you can hear “Bruder Fritschi” coming with his companion into the town. Bruder Fritschi is a symbol of Luzern Fasnacht and will turn Luzern lake at the Schweizerhofquai into a witch kettle by fire up the fireworks – the “Urknall”.
Basel is another Swiss city, which has a lot to offer in the Fastnacht period. Approximately 12000 people yearly are participating in organizing the Basler parade, including musicians and performers. “Morgestreich” (early morning prank) is an event that take place at 4 o’clock in the morning but it’s worth seeing it! As soon as the city lights have been turned off by the public service, a warm light wave coming from the lantern is filling every corner of the old town.
The so called “Waggis” is by the way the symbol of Basel Fasnacht. He is wearing big hair, blue shirt and white pants. The tradition also says he should be wearing big oversized wooden shoes but I haven’t meet anyone with this additional accessories.
At the end I will present you the most terrifying Fasnacht character, which reminds me of a figure from Star Wars episodes. Tschäggättä are wild dressed men, with a goat- or sheep fur and a big cow bell around the neck. Those grotesque characters are noisily passing through the Walliser villages, looking for their brides. A nightmare for every single lady out there!
The Brunette Abroad