Traditions & Customs

When winter slowly departs, carnival revelers live it up in the Upper Rhine Valley. This is when witches, devils, and other bizarre characters celebrate the fifth season. With bells, jingles, and elaborate costumes, they parade through the lanes on Shrove Tuesday to drive away the spirits of winter.

In contrast to the Rhenish carnival, the Swabian-Alemannic custom reminds people of the local sagas and stories. The guilds follow strict rules here. Whether at the Morgenstraich procession, on Shrove Tuesday (Fastnacht, also called Schmotzigen Dunschdig), or on Ash Wednesday: The cities and towns are in an exceptional state for almost a week. Colorful parades attract a costumed audience that hopes for bonbons and sweets, which the carnival revelers throw into the crowd. Wearing disguises as they approach the viewers, their hand-carved masks are regional works of art.