CONTRIBUTED BY AMANDA PAPENFUS
Editor’s note: This article was originally published for a previous Fasting, but we thought you’d be interested to see it again in 2016. This year the Mainz Rosenmontag parade will be on 8 February.
Fasching, also known as Karneval and Fastnacht, is a carnival season in Germany marked by several festivities, including parades. My husband and I went with another couple to the Mainz parade, held on Rosenmontag, the Monday before Ash Wednesday. I have heard the parade in Mainz is one of the biggest, only coming second to the largest one, held in Köln (Cologne).
On the day of the parade, we rode up to Wiesbaden and parked on post. We took a bus that we had thought was supposed to go to the Hauptbahnhof in Mainz, but we ended up getting off at the Hauptbanhof in Wiesbaden. We followed a crowd of people in costumes to find out from one guy that we had to take an S-bahn to Mainz. Our friend bought a four person two way ticket for about 8.50 euro.
We waited out near where the S-bahn was supposed to load and find out there was a delay. While we waited, I people watched, checking out the different costumes. It was interesting to me that there were a lot of costumes of things from America like cowboys and the Ghost Busters.
We noticed that another S-bahn which was supposed to have arrived later was coming first, so we ran over to that one and managed to make it on and get a seat. Some guys were honking a horn which was aggravating in close quarters, but what can ya do? There were also some people with instruments playing what I’ll just refer to as “the Fasching song” since I heard it a few times throughout the day but never found out the name. It’s a song that some sing “Helau, Helau” during and one part sounds a bit like the tune of Clementine to me.
Once we got off the S-bahn, we followed the crowd of costumed people to the parade. We moved a few minutes later to a different spot across from a bunch of sheep where we stayed for the remainder of the parade. I noticed many people on the streets around the parade were on their balconies or looking out their windows.
While I could get a general impression of what was going on for some of the political floats, I’m sure I missed some of what they were trying to convey since I’m not familiar with many German political figures. There were also many floats for what I gathered to be local organizations, but of course not being a local, I did not know who many of them were.
There were some floats that had familiar faces on them. Two of these were the Muppets and the cast of Shrek.
There were also several marching bands. While these are also common in parades in America, there were many more bands than I recall ever seen in an American parade. Interestingly enough, many of the songs sounded like ones I remember playing/hearing in HS band in America. (I played the clarinet). In one band, I was amused to see tubas with Homer and Bart Simpson on them.
There were also several pirate floats. The best one, even had a hot tub on it. If I could have picked a float to ride on, I would have picked that one as they looked like they were having a lot of fun. As it turned out, a few people did try to join one of the groups, which seemed to amuse the people in the group, but did not amuse some guy who came from the front to tell them to get down from the wagon.
There were lots of floats with candy and other treats. People on the float would shout “Helau”, and the people in the crowd would respond the same. Then people would throw out their treats if they had them. I originally didn’t plan on collecting much candy, but our friend gave us a bag, so I did catch some candy and treats.
Note:Amanda originally posted this article on her site, but has graciously shared it with us here as well.