Slowly the shop windows start to fill with streamers, confetti, masks and costumes. The city feels brighter, busier, building up to “the three most beautiful days.” Spring is in the air in Basel and so is Fasnacht!
Basel celebrates carnival a week after everyone else does – the Monday after Ash Wednesday. I couldn’t get anyone to give me a straight answer why, except it is rumored (and wikipedia seems to agree) that the practice started in the 16th century after the city kicked out the Bishops during the Reformation and basically it’s the Protestants thumbing their noses at the Catholics. As in, “you are all in Lent and can’t eat anything good or do anything fun, and we’re still having a party!”
Things start to get going on Sunday night when the groups of piccolo players (pfeifer) who are members of different Cliques (equivalent of Krewes in New Orleans) wander round practicing their route for the next day…
Even the trams have to wait and crawl slowly behind the Cliques.
…to be continued