Fasching or Karneval… Is There a Difference?

By Darlene Fuchs on Email

There are two main words used in German for Carnival or Mardi Gras, the pre-Lenten celebration that ends on Ash Wednesday (Aschermittwoch): the Germanic Fasching and the Latin-based Karneval. Fasching is the most common word used for Mardi Gras in southern Germany, Bavaria and Austria. This Germanic word dates from …

Darlene Fuchs

Alaaf or Helau

By Darlene Fuchs on Email

A very important regional distinction in Germany is the Carnival Salutation. Around Cologne this is “Alaaf”, and almost everywhere else it is “Helau”. One must be sure to never shout “Helau” in Cologne, or “Alaaf” in Mainz! “Alaaf” comes from “Cöllen al aff”, which means “Cologne on everything”. This phrase …

Darlene Fuchs

Anyone Who is Not a Fool at Karneval is Foolish for the Rest of the Year

By Darlene Fuchs on Email

Germans call the pre-Lenten Carnival season “die närrische Saison” (the foolish season) or “die fünfte Jahreszeit” (the fifth season.)  Except for Munich’s Oktoberfest, it is the one time of the year when many people of Germanic backgrounds, normally serious, loosen up and go a little wild. Fastnacht or Karneval is …

Darlene Fuchs