We love festivals. They provide an excellent opportunity to learn about the culture and traditions of different countries. From burning a snowman in Zürich to a festival of fire in Valencia, we try to not waste any opportunity we have to experience carnivalesque celebrations throughout Europe.
One of this unforgettable experiences has to be Basel’s Fasnacht (in Basel, Switzerland). The reason why this carnival is so special is because it begins at 4:00am with the so-called Morgestraich, on the Monday following Ash Wednesday.I was fascinated to see how many people do actually wake up that early, even children.
At exactly 4am (Swiss time), lights in the city center of Basel are switched off and groups of masked participants with lanterns made from wood and canvas begin marching in the dark while playing drums and other instruments. There parade is allocated in two groups, one march clockwise and the other counter-clockwise (see route map below), playing the same song over and over.
The origins of the festival are not clear, but one of the earliest records date back to 1376. It’s probably older, but since an earthquake in 1356 destroyed many of the official archives, is hard to say.
I learned that confetti or Räppli in local dialect (the colorful pieces of paper) apparently originated in Basel, during Fasnacht. Is actually illegal to sell mixed color confetti. This is to avoid people from re-selling confetti that has already being used and thrown on the floor.
Basel Fasnacht summary in video
Although I don’t look forward to waking up at 3am every year, I am glad we got to go to Morgestraich as it is such an unique experience, worth to experienced at least once.