Luzern Fasnacht is one of the largest and oldest Carnivals in Switzerland dating back to the 15th Century. It has changed and evolved over the years but always begins on the Thursday before Ash Wednesday — Dirty Thursday or Schmutziger Donnerstag. Orgnaized celebrations and parades are held on 3 days: Dirty Thursday, Fat Monday (Rose Monday), Fat Tuesday — Schmutziger Donnerstag, Güdismontag(Rosenmontag), Güdisdienstag respectively
Although there is a Christian significance to Carnival — purging period before the fasting season denoted by Lent, it also has pre-Christian roots. It is considered the time of year when the spirits of Winter are expelled, making way for Spring. Additionally, there are many historical and cultural traditions specific to country and city.
Dirty Thursday — Schmutziger Donnerstag
The Pre-Lenten celebration of Carnival (Fascnacht in German) is in full swing in Switzerland with Luzern kicking it off in force at 5:00 am on Dirty Thursday (February 7th 2013) with “cannon fire” and a parade through the streets. I was not brave enough to be in town for this, but I was awake! The “Big Bang” was a potent alarm clock — the explosion reverberated off the mountains for a good minute or more! However, I did venture to town in the afternoon and roamed through the crowds while “children” of all ages flaunted their extravagant costumes and danced to Guggemusig. The party spirit of Luzerners is entertaining to behold this time of year. Warning: Be prepared to be “confettied” — I am still finding confetti in places …
Fat Monday — Güdismontag
I also had the chance to join my fellow Luzerners on Güdismontag for the afternoon Umzug — procession. I was amazed by the quality of costumes, masks, floats and music. The preparation time for these events is evident by design. The weather was cold and grey, but with no snow or rain, it was a pleasant way to spend the afternoon: candy being handed to kids in the crowd, oranges thrown to adults, everyone bouncing and moving with the music, laughing at the parody’s and cheering the more astounding and outragous parade participants. It was a feel-good moment and an event to experience if your travels bring you to Switzerland this time of year!