Posts tagged Carnival
Carnival or Mardi Gras goes by many names in Germany, depending on the region and dialect. Whether you call it Fastnacht, Fasching or Karneval, it is a time for revelry, humor, and satire. They are all one and the same thing: pre-Lenten festivities celebrated in grand style in mostly the predominantly catholic regions of the German-speaking countries. The Rhineland has its Karneval; Austria, Bavaria and Berlin calls theirs Fasching; and the German Swiss celebrate Fastnacht.
Fasching, also nicknamed fünfte Jahreszeit or närrische Saison by Germans, officially begins in most regions in Germany on the eleventh of November at 11:11 am or the day after Dreikönigstag, so on January 7th. The big bash celebrations are however not on the same given date each year, instead the date varies depending on when Easter is held. Fasching culminates into Fasching week which begins the week before Ash Wednesday.
- Weiberfastnacht – Thursday before Ash Wednesday. This is mainly an event held in the Rhineland. The day begins with women storming into and symbolically taking over city hall. Then, women throughout the day will snip off men’s ties and kiss any man that passes their way. The day ends with people going to local venues and bars in costume.
- Parties, Celebrations and Parades – People will celebrate in costume at various carnival community events and individual parties. Carnival parades abound, it is literally the weekend for people to live it up.
- Rosenmontag – The largest and most popular carnival parades take place on the Monday before Ash Wednesday. These parades come mostly from the Rhineland region. People throughout the German-speaking countries will tune in to watch the biggest German carnival parade of all which is held in Cologne.
- Fastnachtsdienstag – Besides some parades which are held on this day, you have the burial or burning of the Nubbel. A Nubbel is a life-size doll made of straw that embodies all of the sins committed during carnival season. It is buried or burned with great ceremony on Tuesday evening before everyone parties one more time till Ash Wednesday arrives.
The 2013 Carnival season in New Orleans was one of the warmest on record, I didn’t wear a jacket until the last couple of days of the season. The Super Bowl interrupted Mardi Gras this year, so parades were held before and after the 9 day break.
Had a rather tough time at the parades this year, my large group of parade goers had winnowed down over time to just me and my beloved wife. Now that she’s gone, I saw the parades by myself. That’s not much fun, and it’s kind of sad.
I still enjoyed myself when the parades rolled. I’m such a huge Mardi Gras fan,I couldn’t help myself. I love the atmosphere, the bands, marching groups, floats, etc.
So we’ll start with the King of Carnival, REX. I dress in purple, green and gold most Mardi Gras, and this year I had a felt frog hat that added a bit of mirth to my serious costume.
REX is an old line krewe that is composed of 3 circles of membership. The inner ring is old blue blood types, and the King and Captain come from that group. The middle ring is new money types. They can become officers, but that’s it. The outside ring is composed of anyone, more or less. If you are successful in life and give something back to the community, there is a good chance REX may have a parade spot for you.
The first two rings of REX are very haughty on the parade route. They only throw to pretty girls and children. The last ring of REX throws to anyone. They are just happy to be riding with REX and give throws to the male sex even! Obviously, the sentiments laid out here are generalizations only.
REX looked grand, it’s the best looking daylight parade by far. The floats aren’t the huge ones that Bacchus, Endymion and Orpheus use, as the float chassis are build on very old wagon bodies, with wooden wheels on the floats!! I don’t know who repairs the wheels, the last wheel wright died a while ago, and I lost touch with the process.
Zulu rolled right at 8 am on Jackson Avenue on a beautiful Mardi Gras day. Marlin Gusman was on horseback with a gaggle of sheriff’s deputies, Mayor Mitch Landrieu was also in the parade.
Zulu appreciates costuming, and if you have a funny aspect to your costume, that only helps. Zulu has some haughty riders, but most aren’t. When the double decker, double length floats arrived, they were handing out coconuts with a frenzy. I caught 5, gave away 2 on the spot, and one later. I don’t remember any double floats in the past handing down so many coconuts.
Zulu now color coordinates their coconut colors! If the riders wore orange gowns, their coconuts were painted the same color orange.
I had to leave Zulu at 9 am to go home to pick up the smart card for my camera, then off to REX. On the way I say a man and his son walking around near Zulu. They were having a tough time getting there, so I reached into my bag and gave them a nice Zulu coconut. You never saw such big smiles! I was happy to give them that coconut.
Proteus the night before was one gorgeous parade. They are a very old krewe, from the late 1800s. Proteus also uses wooden wagon chassis and wooden wheels from long ago.
Muses is the biggest all female Carnival krewe in existence. The crowds turn out for Muses, since their reputation for new, novel throws has grown large. Their most unique and rare throw, the Muses decorated shoe throw, is highly sought after. I didn’t get any shoes this year, but got lots of other unique throws, including a Muses magnetic shopping list with pad, special marker,and erasable writing surface; Muses collapsible drink flask with carabiner; Muses shoelaces in a cool plastic test tube; Muses flashlight that flashes the Muses symbol (as in Batman and the Bat signal commissioner Gordon uses to get Batman’s attention); a Muses reusable grocery shopping bag; and a Muses bead catching net. The net was a pain at the parade, all the folks who received them waved them in everyone’s faces while trying to catch throws.
I noticed for several years that Muses only throws stuff with their logo on it. That means the krewe must buy all their throws from the krewe. That’s a very expensive proposition. Most other krewes require their members to buy some throws with their logo on it, but allow the members to augment their krewe purchases with generic, cheaper throws. I bet the Muses dues is less than the cost of purchasing all those krewe throws. I really don’t think the average Muses krewe member cares. To belong to Muses, is well, one of the more divine and sublime experiences in the New Orleans Carnival world.
Krewe du Vieux rolled very early in the season, moved back a week by the Super Bowl. Nevertheless, the first parade of the season had rather warm weather this year, As readers of this blog know, I’m in KdV, and I’m very partial to it.
All the reasons- the historic parade route, the donkeys, the brass bands, and the outright over the top ribald floats- have been covered in this blog numerous times. Yes, I love my KdV!!
Roger Goodell, long time NFL Commissioner, made a statement alluding to the KdV float, the anti Goodell signage in stores,restaurants and bars all over town, and the voodoo dolls he’s been given. He claims none of that influenced his decision to lift Saints Coach Peyton’s suspension a couple of weeks early. We all know better!
It’s Twelfth Night (Jan.6), the formal start of the 2013 Carnival Season! I hope that excites you, because it excites me! It is a short season this year, as Fat Tuesday is Feb.12. As of today, there are 37 days to Fat Tuesday!! Plus, the Super Bowl will be played in New Orleans on Feb.3. As I’ve written before, this means the parades will be split into two sections, with the nine day Super Bowl break occurring in the middle.
Twelfth Night is the start of the King Cake season, though the grocery stores put them out around New Years Day.
YUM!! There are a million varieties of King Cakes today, we live in the true renaissance era of King Cakes. Here’s a fancy King Cake recipe from star chef Emeril Lagasse. When I first moved to New Orleans in the mid 1970s, the only type of King Cake was plain ones. Then McKenzie’s Bakeries, a local chain, produced the first filled King Cakes. Now, you can find almost any flavor possible. McKenzie’s is long gone, but their unique innovation lives on and on!
As for the PPP, or Phunny Phorty Phellows, their ride down St. Charles Avenue on a St.Charles Avenue Street Car occurs tonight.
From the PPP website: The modern organization was revived in 1981 by a small group of friends and Mardi Gras enthusiasts. It has continued without interruption to the present day. The PPP paraded with the Krewe of Clones from 1981 until 1986. In 1982 we also began a tradition of riding the streetcar line (in a streetcar) and proclaiming the arrival of the Carnival season on Twelfth Night. That is the night when the new Boss and Queen are chosen by the traditional King Cake method as well as the occasion of the sumptuous Coronation Ball. A “Carnival Countdown” take place right before the Phellows board the streetcar.
The Storyville Stompers is the official band for the Streetcar Ride and Benny Grunch and the Bunch play at the Coronation Ball.
Other innovations and features: Beautiful invitations and dance cards like 1800s by a series of royal artists: Beth Kesmodel, Hal Pluche, Jeanne Woods, Arthur Nead, and Kevin Barre.
My own Krewe of Underwear, part of the historic Krewe du Vieux, roll January 19, which is very exciting and probably a very cold evening. I’ll have to bundle up big time before rolling. I love the brass bands, the donkeys, the heavy ribald satire, and the route- we roll through the French Quarter and the Faubourg Marigny. There is no better place to be January 19 than at our parade or in it. Happy Mardi Gras to the World!!! Here’s our route-
Our New Orleans City Council is considering a parade proposal that would let the crowd throw back beads at specially designed bead recycling floats. This is an excellent idea whose time has certainly come. I saw such a float at the end of some parades in 2012.
There’s a very cool documentary about where our beloved Mardi Gras beads come from. Mardi Gras: Made in China is all about our beads and the China connection. Here’s a clip from youtube.com.
That’s a lot of wasted beads! Even though there’s been a law on the books banning parade goers from throwing beads at floats, that hasn’t stopped anyone, when the right float goes by. Bacchus’ Kong series of floats are all targets of beads.Tucks’ toilet float is another serious target.
Councilwoman Susan Guidry, a big recycling champion, is behind this effort. The council could pass the ordinance very quickly in time for the Carnival 2013, or let it sit until 2014.
Verdigras.org is a new Mardi Gras green effort. From their web site-
an amalgam of ages, races, sexes,
and families speaking a common
Mardi Gras is about the show,
not the throw, the community
joie de vivre.
conservation of our resources
–Inspiring others and ourselves in
creating and supporting a greener,
cleaner Mardi Gras for all – with a
spirit of creativity and fun, and
–Reducing our dependence on foreign
throws and throws in general.
There’s no stopping the New Orleans Mardi Gras 2012 now. Parades resume tonight with the Krewe of Ancient Druids at 6:30 p.m. and Krewe of Nyx at 7p.m. Both use the Uptown route. So far, my favorite parade has been my own Krewe du Vieux. We have the best parade route of all parades- the French Quarter and Faubourg Marigny. These are most historic sections of town, as the French Quarter was the original settlement.
Outside of KdV, my 2nd favorite parade was King Arthur, though they ran over an hour late(?) due to a shortness of rider harnesses. The Fire Department has the ultimate say so over this issue, and they delayed the parade until the harnesses were in place. They play an important role in preventing float riders from falling off.
I’ve acquired some new purple, green and gold pieces for my Fat Tuesday costume. My plan for the big day? Start off with Zulu on Jackson Avenue, then on to St. Charles Avenue in time for Rex. Catch a few dozen trucks, then eat some seafood gumbo and an Italian sausage hoagie with peppers & onions. Next, I plan on going downtown to the Marigny, around Frenchmen Street to catch a few Mardi Gras tunes at the numerous cool clubs in that area.
I sure love Mardi Gras in New Orleans!!