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Carnival in Germany, Switzerland and Austria IndigoBall

Carnival in Germany, Austria and Switzerland – Indigo Ball – 15 Jan 2016

The Carnival in a cultural events, celebrated in most part of the world, especially in Europe and America. Talking particularly about Europe, the Carnival is the fifth season of a year that starts from 11th November at 11:11 AM every year (11/11 at 11:11am). However, the celebration times come between Shrove Thursday (Weiberfastnacht) and Carnival Monday (Rosenmontag). The three German speaking European countries, Germany, Switzerland and Australia, are very famous regarding carnival celebrations.

Rose Monday Indigo Ball

The carnival is celebrated in a crazy style through parties on streets, pubs and public squares. Especially, for bars and pubs, their close time is suspended during the carnival in order make long night parties and enjoyment. Regarding dressing, special costumes are worn by people in order to celebrate the Carnival.

1. Carnival Schedule for 2016 – 2018:

Karneval – Fasching – Fastnacht (Germany Rheinland)
Alte Fastnacht or Bauernfastnacht (Protestant regions of Switzerland)
2016: February 7 – 9 Ash Wednesday falls on Feb 10
2017: February 26 – 28 Ash Wednesday falls on Mar 1
2018: February 11 – 13 Ash Wednesday falls on Feb 14

3. Why Carnival is different in Germany, Austria and Switzerland?

Although the carnival is celebrated in highly cultural and traditional style in all European countries, however, the interesting aspect of all three German speaking countries is that the carnival is pronounced differently, perceived differently and celebrated differently. Hence, the discussion about differences will make it easy to understand why and how it is different in different countries. The following schedule is showing Carnivals dates from 2016 – 2018.

First of all, the different words and pronunciations are used for Carnival or Mardi Gras event. The all of three German speaking countries have different German names for Carnival event such as, Karneval, Fastnacht and Fashing.

(a) The word “Karneval” is used for Carnival within Rheinland area of Germany (Northwest Germany, expect Mainz). The geography of Karneval is found in Bonn, Köln, Aachen and Düsseldorf areas.

(b) The word “Fastnacht” (Fassenacht, Fasnacht, Fasnet or Fasent) is used for Swabian-Alemannic Carnival, which is different from Rheinland Carnival or Austrian Carnival. This type of Carnival is celebrated in certain areas of Germany and many areas of Switzerland. The geography of Fastnacht is found in western Austria (Alberg), Black Forest, Konstanz, Freiburg (Baden), Franken, Northern Bavaria (Franconia), Wiesbaden (Hesse), Mainz, Saarland, Swabia, Luxembourg and Switerzerland (Zurich, Lucerne, Bern, Basel).

(c) The word “Fasching” is used for Carnival within regions of Central and eastern Austria and some parts of Germany such as, Saxony (Sachsen), Brandenburg and Bavaria (Würzburg, Munich).

2. Carnival Indigo Ball

Infact, these all three words have been derived from different sources. For example, Karneval is known as recent (17th century). It might has been derived from latin word “Carne levare”, which means “away from meat” and it may have become Carnevale and now Karneval.

On the other hand, the word “Fasching” has history from 13th century and derived from Germanic word “Vaschang” or “Vaschanc”, which have become Fastenschank (Serving of alcoholic drinks before lent). In old times, there were 40 days Lenten were strictly observed (Fasting) and fast refers towards “refrain from eating”. Now a day, Fasten word is used for fasting.

The word fastnacht has been derived from old Germanic word “Fasen” which means (to be foolish, wild or silly). That’s why, the users of Fastnacht (t is silent) is taken as “night of being foolish, silly and wild”.

4. Celebration of Karneval / Fasching:

Each day of Karneval, until Ash Wednesday, is celebrated in accordance with specific schedule (However, some of difference in scheduling and day names are there in different localities and countries).

Thursday (Donnerstag)
Fat/Greasy Thursday (Fettdonnerstag / Schmotziger Donnerstag
Nonsensical Thursday (Unsinniger Donnerstag)
Dirty Thursday (Schmutziger Donnerstag)

Friday (Freitag)
Sooty Friday (Rußiger Freitag)

Saturday (Samstag)
Carnation Saturday (Nelkensamstag)
Greasy / Schmaltzy Saturday (Schmalziger Samstag)

Sunday (Sonntag)
Tulip Sunday (Tulpensonntag)

Monday (Montag)
Rose Monday (Rosenmontag)

Tuesday (Dienstag)
Shrove Tuesday (Fasnachtsdienstag)

Fat Tuesday (Mardi Gras)
Violet Tuesday (Veilchendienstag)

Wednesday (Mittwoh)
Ash Wednesday (Ashcermittwoch) First day of Lent

Sunday (Sonntag)
Sparks Sunday (Funkensonntag)

In many of regions, there is public holiday on Ash Wednesday. When it ends of tueday, the celebrations of Carnival in Munich starts with street carnivals (Strassenfasching) and stage events such as comedy, dancing and music. The all pedestrian zones goes in the hands of fools (Narren) from (Sunday to Tuesday) and it becomes a big party event. Similarly in Switzerland, the Sunday after Ash Wednesday, the Carnival celebrations start “Alte Fastnacht”.

5. Celebration of Karneval in Cologne (Köln):

Every year, there happens many big carnival events in different, however, the Carnival Köln (cologne) is one of big carnival events in Germany. Especially, bars and pubs remain open, as their close time is suspended during the carnival in order make long night parties and enjoyment.


The troops with colourful costumes are found in Neumarkt, cologne, which are making parties and cheering and shouts “Kölle Alaaf” (Long Live Cologne). On Carnival Sunday, the borough and school groups parade all over the cologne city. The Rose Monday is one of peak time for celebration of street carnival.

Cologne Carnival 3 Indigo Ball

But the highlight of the street carnival is Rose Monday with the march of “Cologne’s Dreigestirn” or Triumvirate – the Prince, the Peasant and the Maiden – in the kilometre-long Rosenmontag procession going through the city. The all celebrations in Cologne are ended on Ash Wednesday.

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