Monday, March 2, 2009

Urdorf Fasnacht 2009

Saturday was awesome. Not only was the weather delightful - sunny and warm (um, yes, 45F is now officially warm) but it was also the perfect day to celebrate Fasnacht in our little dorf. I have been looking forward to checking out the festivities in Switzerland after celebrating in Cologne, Germany more than 10 years go (jeez, I am old...), and they did not disappoint one bit. I will preface my comments on the Urdof Fasnacht by saying that in the end I did not make it to Basel - not out of lack of desire of laziness, then again, a girl does need her beauty rest - but rather because after having seen the Urdorf AND Zurich parades, I was officially Fasnacht'd out. More on Zurich tomorrow. So while I didn't see the most famous Fasnacht of them all, I nevertheless feel that I got a taste of the celebration right here at home - and Urdof was better than Zurich... that's all I'll say for now, more throughout the week.

There are a few guarantees, I have learned, when it comes to Fasnacht.

1) People really love it.
Everyone gets all dressed up and puts the face paint on (or chicken hats), and the Halloween costumes come out of hiding for the kids. Adults have been working on their costumes all year, the Gugge bands have been rehearsing to perfection, adults take the Monday off to recover, and everyone is pumped for the big day! It is an awesome atmosphere.

2) The first, and my favorite, is all the amazing masks. There is a man, with a little hut, and a few carving tools, and a great sense of humor, of course, somewhere high up in the Alps (I imagine) chiseling away at block after block of delicate wood, he probably only had one leg, but that doesn't stop him from creating some of the most charming and/or alarming characters imaginable. And they all make their appearances at Fasnacht, but he doesn't want any credit. The laughter of the children is all he needs. Oh, if only I could meet that man.

Perhaps it is just me, but it is hard, after awhile, to remember that these are masks and that the big shiny, happy face smiling at you is not real. They are just such lovable creatures. I am pinching their cheeks in my mind. If I could, I would like to have a small hoarde of these in my closet and wear them around when I am not in the mood to put on a smile. Just 'put on a happy face' and it can be Fasnacht everyday. Ooh you are just so cute.

3) With the masks, or perhaps with a bit too much drinky drink, these characters are cheeky bastards... ok, let me back up. My research shows that the role of these masked demons is primarily to go around and pass out candy and interact with the parade goers. While some are kind and happily hand out candy to the little ones, some are just darn right mean. They taunt and tease the kids, throwing handfulls of newspaper that scatter when they hit the ground, sending the kids running into the street for candy, only to be greeted by a puddle of confetti... mean.... and moreover, some grown men will come and throw confetti down your shirt and rub handfuls of confetti through your hair. There are no boundries on Fasnacht day. Be prepared... and don't stand next to a group of pretty young thangs because they are just easy targets.

4) There is confetti everywhere... floats are launching it using pressurized guns, kids are throwing it (...and then scooping it back up and throwing it again), masked creatures are propelling it... and just when you think that it is NOT HUMANLY POSSIBLE to create any more confetti because all of the world's supply MUST be in YOUR HAIR and down YOUR SHIRT and in crevises not generally reachable by one's self... more confetti appears and threatens to choke you out. FASNACHT = CONFETTI. It is EVERYWHERE... and still is days later.

5) The floats are pretty darn creative. I have heard that the bigger cities are more politically oriented when it comes to the floats, I know Cologne was. But Urdorf and Zurich were pretty low key - more culturally focused than politically. It was really inspring to see some of the clever designs they had. This one below was a medieval float with rock bean bags that they catapulted overboard.

This was also a favorite, the Gugge Elivs Squad. Clever, clever. And one of the most popular reality shows in Switzerland, Bauer ledig, sucht..., sponsored a few floats. And lordy, one can only guess why some of those tractor driving hotties have trouble finding a wife. Lordy, lordy... ;)
Some floats gave away drinks, some candy, some propoganda, but it all had such a community focus and feel. It was really wholesome. I went home and baked 14 apple pies just to spread a bit of the love around. Ok, so I did not really bake any pies, but I did make a cake today, does that count?

5) The Gugge music is really jamming. I got into it in a big way. The head was bobbing, I was showing off my German music knowledge, and I couldn't get enough of the bands. Some people cannot stand the Gugge, but I think it is a gem of Swiss culture. Give me Gugge.

Oh, and finally, it would seem that it wouldn't be a Swiss Fasnacht if the event did not start with a big cow bell - or better yet a dozen heavy cow bells - laboriously shuffled through the streets. The klang is both deafening and jarring. I loved it.

Obviously, 10 Punkte for Urdorf's Fasnacht... I loved all the elements, and especially the fact that it all took place in my backyard. I am in for next year... perhaps I can volunteer to wear the bells... ;) Zurich Fasnacht's up next...
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Amanda said...

Great photos! You little village sure knows how to celebrate!

Kerrin - MyKugelhopf said...

WOW, now that's a Fasnacht report, I feel like I was there with you. You captured it all. I even feel like I have some confetti behind my ear right now. Oh wait, I do - that's from yesterday at Zurich's Fasnacht! Haha! Next year I am going to Basel -- and maybe Urdorf too!

Oh, one important question... so what kind of cake did you make today?! :)

Jessica said...

Thanks Kerrin - you are definately welcome to come on down to Urdorf. I have heard since attending that Urdorf has one of the biggest Fasnacht festivals in the area!

And as for the CAKE! It was a Hummingbird Cake from the Magnolia Bakery Cookbook. DELISH!

richard said...

Hi Jessica - glad you enjoyed Fasnacht in Urdorf - great overview of the festivities. Thanks for the visit over at my blog, and maybe I will do an entire Ganymede series - it's almost that way at the moment actually

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