Thursday, February 4, 2016

Just Another Dirty Thursday

I could have saved my "Here we go again" title for today. It's Schmotziger Donnerstag, or, as I like to call it, "Dirty Thursday". Die Narren sind los - The nuts are loose.

This is the height of Fasching/Fasnet/Fastnacht/Karnival - there are many names for this madness, and I'm sure it's a lot of fun if you're into it.

I thought I should let my students know a little bit about what goes on around here today, on the weekend, and early next week, so I wrote up a "reading comprehension exercise" explaining it roughly - enough so they won't wonder when, while walking to the Bahnhof or bus stop, they'll see a grown man dressed up like zebra - for instance.

Some costumes have a story and old tradition, like these Blockstrecker in Bildechingen.
Those are the ones I find interesting!
We will not have class on Monday because there's a big Umzug (parade) in Horb, and apparently the Narren (fools) can demand a Wegzoll (passage tax) from people trying to pass through town - €2 or €3 for "safe passage through Horb". I would have a serious problem with that, and I can imagine the Flüchtlinge wouldn't appreciate that either, just for trying to get to school to learn German. So the director said we are closed that day - and the doors are bolted shut.

I ended my explanation of the craziness of the next five days with "Ich bleibe lieber zu Hause und lese ein gutes Buch!" (I prefer to stay at home and read a good book!) Several of my students said they think they'll stay home, too, where they'll feel safer. I did tell them when the parades are in each of the towns where they're living, though, in case they want to check them out.

Umzug in Eutingen
While waiting for the bus after class (there was no way I was parking our car in town today), groups of Narren dressed in all kinds of crazy costumes crossed the strees at will, stopping traffic - including a bus - while they stumbled across to the other side. I was really pleased to see the number of groups who were dropped off by taxi - rather than driving themselves.

One thing I saw yesterday really bothered me. While standing at the crosswalk waiting for the little Ampelmännchen to turn green, I saw a mother (or grandmother) on the other side standing with a boy who was probably about 8 years old - maybe 10. He had a toy pistol and was aiming and shooting it at every car that drove past. When the Ampelmännchen turned green, the boy "shot" at those of us who were crossing the street towards him. The mother never said a word to him - apparently she didn't find anything wrong with a child pointing a gun at people and shooting them. I find that highly inappropriate - even with a toy gun.

I cannot for the life of me figure out why stores in Germany sell toy guns during Fasching, when most Germans agree that guns are not something people (who are not hunters or sport-shooters) should have.

Fasching is just not my thing, but I know people who really enjoy it. I am very interested in the history of it - for instance that it began in pagan times as a crazy celebration to chase away the demons of winter, and that the Catholics took it on as a way to celebrate like maniacs before the somber and repentant weeks of Lent.

Anyway, Feiert schön, und bleibt sauber!  (Enjoy the celebration, and stay clean!)

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