Friday, February 8, 2008

Fasching - Austrian Mardi Gras

There's a saying in Austria, "3 Tog, 3 Tog gemma nimmer hoam!" roughly translated as "Three days, three days, we'll never go home!" This applies to Fasching in Bad Aussee: the celebration begins on the weekend (by some accounts, on Friday by storming the Rathaus) and everyone stays out at the bars until Tuesday night. My anonymous source says her students came to school in costume on Monday, many of them hungover. That night she saw the same students at the bars, and the next morning they dragged themselves into school wearing the same clothes from the day before. They came straight from the bars, drunk, hungover, sick... My landlady says, "I know that smell... it smells like the plague."

Some students in Stainach dressed up on Monday, but the majority dressed up on Tuesday, including the faculty. I went as the Roman goddess Luna, shown here with Lukas and Oliver of the 8B class.
Tuesday afternoon I went to Bad Aussee to see the Fasching parade. There were lots of spectators in costume, and we came to see the Trommelweiber and the Flinserl. The former are the Drum Women, who are not women at all but men dressed in women's clothes. The story goes that the men of Aussee were so henpecked because they stayed out at the bars late, that they began to disguise themselves as women so their wives couldn't find them. They use trumpets and drums to drive Winter out of Aussee.
The Flinserl are men and women who are dressed in linen costumes, decorated with felt appliques and sequins, most likely influenced by the antique costumes from Venice Carnevale. They are supposed to represent Spring. They march through the town, and then disperse to distribute nuts and sweets to the children who correctly chant a rhyme and beg.

The Flinserl are protected by a man carrying pig's bladders on a stick. If an adult tries to interfere in the distribution of goodies, the Zacherl hit them over the head with the pig's bladders. I don't know... sounds like another corruption of a Roman fertility practice!

There's also Krampus-like figures who wear white, carry mops made of wet rags and have baskets over their heads. Don't know what this is all about, except that they chase little kids (and American tourists with cameras!) and are really scary!

There are more pictures of Fasching in Bad Aussee here: link

And now we're in Lent... I miss the fresh strawberries and fresh seafood specials in Louisiana. Heringschmaus just doesn't appeal!


marilyn said...

Perfect, the Luna costume, goddess of the classroom: blackboard, every which way papers and laughing students. Love it, Marilyn

Memories said...

Hey Joey, GrussGot! My girls' father is from Steirmark. Kapfenberg. Their last name is Herzog. He's buried in Fraenfeld. He was in a band, Orig. Murztaler Muzikanten. Look them up. My girls' names are Virginia & Laure'. Let me know if you want to contact their family.

You look great. Jody Boudreaux