Journeyed out to a little town called Weil der Stadt for our first taste of German Fasching, aka Karneval. All of Germany welcomes the coming of spring with this leftover pagan holiday. The kids have a whole week off of school for this, with the apex of celebrations occuring in Cologne, up north. If you are interested, this website, sums up the history behind the holiday nicely. Basically, everyone dresses up as witches, ghouls, medeival peasants, cavemen, gladiators, cowboys, or clowns and parades down main streets throughout Germany, tossing candy and scaring children as they proceed. One of the largest in our area is in Weil der Stadt (east of Stuttgart), which happens to be home to the von Heydebreck family, old friends of our work mate, Bettina. She suggested we meetup and spend the day with them (they have 3 young children...Katerina is 11, Johannes is 7 and Niklaus is 4). Jorg and Simone are the parents. Jorg speaks great English, and we discovered that Simone does too, although she was shy at the start, I completely understand that. We had a nice lunch with them and the kids all dressed up to attend the parade. Mayzie was a ladybug and there was a clown, a pirate, and a cowboy in the group:
Their house is just outside of the town, so we walked down into the action. This town was very pretty--a walled city, where Johannes Kepler was born, the gateway into the Black Forest. A classic hamlet, you just want to gobble it up. Mayzie immedietly got on well with the kids--she was holding hands with Katarina and romping and rough housing with the boys. It was great to see and really re-emphisized how we need to get her in some kind of kindergarten soon. The Karneval was awesome....lots of crazy, semi drunk people tryting to scare the older kids, and handing out candy to the younger ones.
It's like a mixture between a medieval Halloween, Oktoberfest and the Rose Parade. It was noisy, rowdy, and everyone was very happy. A very cool scene. The ghouls and witches would move very eerily and creep up and scare the kids. The masks are all wood and very intricate. We learned later that they are as much as 2000 euros and are typically passed down through families. I was surprised how well Mayzie did....no crying at all..there were some 11 year old in front of me cuddling with their mommy for protection. I think the possibility of candy takes precedent over being scared by some strange dude in a goats mask.
Again, it was this kind of day that really makes being in Germany special. We met some more great people after the karnaval, and many pretzels and berliners(jelly donuts) were consumed over some good conversation in the warmth of their beautiful home. Our new friends were understanding of our situation and made us feel more optomistic about everything working out.
Holy crap, its our neighbor lady!