Snap, Whip, Crack!
The parade has begun with over 4000 “fools” who have gathered at the entrance to the old Black Gate and make their way down the parade route. The characters of the Black Forest begin to come alive as they perform a slow, shuffling dance by hopping from one leg to another in sync with the tune of a “Fool’s March”, which is played over and over again by the various marching bands. They yell out “Hu, Hu, Hu” in a high pitched sound and then make muffled sounds underneath their oversized character masks. It is quite hard to grasp the array of customs that they are performing, yet fascinating.
This is by far, one of the most interesting and fun events I have ever attended. Don’t think of what you know about the carnivals that strictly involve drunkenness and partying, but instead think of extreme tradition that has been passed down for generations. It is the purist form of a traditional Carnival known.
Rottweil’s Narrensrung Carnival is no laughing matter!
The parade participants have to pass the guidelines of the Rottweil Fools Association to be able to participate in Narrensrung. It is considered a privilege to do so. In fact, in order to participate, you must have either been born in Rottweil or to have lived there a minimum of 15 years to be able to even walk in the parade. And that is just the half of it. There are actually inspections of the costumes and masks. Participants are even get reprimanded for taking off their masks. That way, the entire length and time of the parade (which seems to go on forever), each costumed participant looks like the perfect medieval forest character! It seems everything about their procession is tightly regulated, from the strange dance moves to the yelps of the “Hu Hu Hu” to the ceremonial face-ticking of the masks that they have down to a science.
As mentioned, the entire process is monitored by the Rottweil Fools Association, which does not have a problem with attracting participants.
Each of the Fools also have to keep a Fool’s Book during the year, where they draw scenes that have happened to them over the course of the year. They then carry these journals with them on the route and show them to chosen people in the crowd, aiming to engage the general public with conversation. And there are plenty to choose from as the town is full of fun-loving people that are here to enjoy the old traditions of carnival.
Some fun facts about Rottweil:
- Not only do they have the 8 am Rose Monday performance of Nassensprung, but they also have two performances on Shrove Tuesday at 8 am and 2 pm.
- The Rottweiler dog was named after this town.
- There is a viewing platform on the Hochtum, a tower where you can see a bird’s eye view of a panorama of the Black Forest, the Swabian Mountains and the Upper Necker Valley.
How to get here: Rottweil is about an hour southwest of Stuttgart, Germany
Honestly, my favorite thing about Rottweil was Carnival, it doesn’t get much better than that!
Disclosure: My trip to Rottweil was a sponsored trip by the German National Tourism Board, however, the giggles, laughs and fun I had was all my own doing (with the help of the Fools, of course!).