Germany

It’s Raining Booze on This Parade

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.

Parade 1

Look at those happy parade-going adults!

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.

Klopfer

Step Zwei: Remove the metal lid, put it on your nose and pinch it so it stays.

Note, the tiny lids on our noses.

Note, the tiny lids on our noses.

Step Drei: Hold the bottle with your teeth, cheers the person next to you, and bottoms up!

Cheers!

Proßt!

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!

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Saarland ist BUNT!

When I arrived in Germany late this summer I started hearing about a movement in Germany called PEGIDA, an acronym for “Patriots of Europe Against the Islamization of the West.” Their protests in Dresden are what first gave them recognition in the media. Their movement is aggressive and intolerant. They demand that all refugees return to their home countries, despite the fact that Germany has a history of being a safe haven for those seeking refuge. Pegida lumps all Muslim refugees together and calls them criminals and terrorists. They confuse terrorism with Islam. Many people have already compared the anti-Islam sentiments of the movement with the antisemitic ideals of the Nazi party. In fact, some of their lingo comes directly from former Nazi statements. I was shocked to see such a group here in Germany. So, when PEGIDA supporters in Saarland announced they would be demonstrating in Saarbrücken, I decided that I would march in the counter demonstration. On Monday, I walked with a new friend I met from France over to the meeting place. As we came closer, I could see crowds of people coming from all directions. When we reached the “Treffpunkt” (meeting place) I was overwhelmed at how many people were there. People from all different political parties, social groups, ages and walks of life were there waiting to march for tolerance and peace. We marched to Sankt Johanner Markt together and were greeted with Samba music and speeches about acceptance and understanding. The mayor of Saarbrücken stated that there was no place for racism in Saarland. Later we came to find out that the PEGIDA demonstration had a turnout of approximately 300 people. Our march against their movement had a whopping 9000 supporters. I am proud to call this city home for now and happy to say Saarland ist Bunt! (Saarland is colourful)