I’ve been to plenty of parades in my life. My hometown of Pocatello loves a good parade. We have a Homecoming Parade, Fourth of July Parade, the Winter Light Parade and plenty of other ones that I’m forgetting. When I was little, parades were just about the most exciting thing that could happen. What was better than lining up outside to watch decorated trucks and marching bands while filling up a pillowcase with flying candy? (Except the saltwater taffy. No one likes saltwater taffy) But after you’ve seen a hundred parades, well, you’ve seen a hundred parades and the whole thing loses its charm.
I had the chance to go see another parade here in Saarland on Sunday for Fasching, the German equivalent to Carnaval or Mardi Gras. I figured I should go to experience at least a small part of Fasching and I was not disappointed. Some things were the same. You had your crowds of people, decorated floats and flying candy. But some things were a little different…
Apparently tractors are a must-have in Saarland.
When I was little, we always collected our candy with either pillowcases or an old plastic shopping bag. In Germany, they have a different technique. What is something that every German carries at all times? An umbrella. They take this practical item, and make it even more practical by flipping it upside down and creating the ultimate candy-catching device. Creative. Practical. Efficient. Does it get any more German than that?
And then came the big difference. The one thing that made this parade awesome for even the adults. Free booze. While the kids caught candy in their umbrellas, the grown-ups held out cups and got shots of all sorts of flavored liquor and, of course, beer.
Fasching includes all sorts of traditions, including wearing costumes and cutting mens ties (learn more about Fasching here) and it also includes some fun ways to raise a glass. One of the new ways I learned was with a “Klopfer.” A Klopfer is a tiny bottle of alcohol. This is what to do with it in 3 easy steps:
Step Eins: If you are standing near a wall, go knock on it three times with your little bottle. After all, Klopfer means Knocker.
Step Zwei: Remove the metal lid, put it on your nose and pinch it so it stays.
Step Drei: Hold the bottle with your teeth, cheers the person next to you, and bottoms up!
I thought that parades could never be as exciting as they were when I was a kid. Germany has proved me wrong! When in Germany, get out there and enjoy yourself. Just remember to Parade responsibly!