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GERMANY: Carnival (carnaval) in Germany and Spain



John Heelan writes: "Carnival ("Fasching") in Germany exhibits many of the characteristics of "carnaval" worldwide, e.g. strict start/end dates, eventual re-imposition of repression, and a temporary relaxation of mores on status, sex and gender. [Having enjoyed Fasching in Munich several times, it seems to me to be even more outrageous fun than its cousin in Andalucia!].

Your point about prosperity is well-taken. Perhaps it supports, to some extent, my point about the difference between Cádiz's plebeian "carnaval" and Sevilla's bourgeois "Feria"? "Fasching" tends to have a plethora of formal occasions, such as masked balls etc toward the bourgeois end of the celebration spectrum, while the plebeian irreverence is demonstrated in folkloric items like the "dance of the market-women" (usually men dressed as women)-i.e the sex inversion common to most carnivals.

I also suggest that the "repression", for which the German Fasching is a safety-valve, is the relatively starchy standards of normal German social behaviour (more so in the North than in the South). [I lived in a small village in the Taunus region, north of Frankfurt for a time. Social mores in that village were far stricter than I was used to in England. Yet when I met some of my uptight neighbours enjoying themselves anonymously at wine festivals in various Rhineland honey-pots (such as Rudesheim), their behavioural standards were substantially less strict than they were at home some 30-40 miles away!] What a fascinating world we live in!"

RH:Why is sex inversion common in carnivals? There is a correlation beyween Catholicism, wine and carnival.

Ronald Hilton - 8/3/03


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