Carnival ("Maschkera") in the Alpenwelt Karwendel
Anyone visiting the Alpenwelt Karwendel during carnival (Fasching) is in for a unique treat. Scary figures wearing wooden masks run around the alleyways, restaurants and taverns of Mittenwald. With plenty of music and gruff voices these figures are acting out a unique custom from ages long gone.
Getting the carnival period underway the "Maschkera" from all over the Alpenwelt Karwendel run around in their hand-carved masks and colourful costumes. Hidden behind their elaborate masks they are present right through from 6th January to Shrove Tuesday which in 2016 is on 9th February mainly in Mittenwald. With music and highjinks there aim is to drive out the winter demons in the darkest months of the year. Right throughout the winter holiday in the Alpenwelt Karwendel visitors can experience the magic of this ancient custom.
Farewell to winter – in short Lederhosen
The climax of this colourful custom is on 4th February 2016 that is also known as "Unsinnige Donnerstag" (nonsense Thursday). On the dot of 12 p.m. bell ringers ring in the spring in Mittenwald, Krün and Wallgau following a custom that dates back some 500 years. Wearing short Lederhosen, green hats and wooden masks and carrying heavy cowbells the men form a long line and dance through the streets. Their cacophony is said to drive out the winter and awaken the spring.
The "Maschkera" are not the only group that practise this custom. There are also other such traditional groups known as "Pfannenzieher", "Bärentreiber" and "Jacklschutzer". They all wear decorative hand-carved masks and heirloom costumes that are handed down from generation to generation.
Dates for 2017 (23rd to 28th February):
- Maundy Thursday: "Absurd Thursday" – traditional Fasching goings-on with the "Schellenrührern"
- Fasching Sunday: Fasching procession and games
- Carnival Monday: Traditional Fasching goings-on
- Shrove Tuesday: Traditional Fasching goings-on
The background to this ancient tradition offers an insight into centuries gone by:
The end of Twelfth Night on the Epiphany also marks the beginning of Carnival – a time in which nature is to be reawoken and should once again begin to grow. In days gone by, this was an important time of year for the people; the time in which the winter gloom is replaced by a joy for spring, and darkness by more sunlight. The Carnival traditionally lasts until Ash Wednesday.