Do you know what Fasnacht is? No? Don’t worry. Neither did I.
We had planned to visit the peaceful and elegant town of Lucerne for just one day. I’d been before and wanted Jack to witness it’s beauty. It was summer when I went last so I knew it would be different but I can tell you, with all certainty in the world, I was not expecting to experience anything like Fasnacht .
Fasnacht is the name for Lucerne’s 6-day carnival that celebrates the good things life: happiness, alcohol, music and costumes.
I was navigating our short drive from Zurich to Lucerne so I had my eye out for road signs and street names. As soon as we saw a sign that alerted us we were in Lucerne, I saw them. “OMG, I just saw people in the alleyway with really big heads.” I yelled. I was excited, confused, and a bit scared. Before I tried to explain, we started seeing them everywhere: people in extraordinary costumes, some with large instruments. And these people were everywhere: on the bus, on the streets, in their cars and in restaurants. We seemed to be the only real humans in the area. It was mayhem.
Maybe we’ve been living under a rock, but none of us had any idea this 700 year old tradition even existed.
We parked by a costume store, purchased silly hats as a way to blend in and headed out into the unknown. The Lucerne that I remember, famous for it’s stillness and beauty, only played a supporting role on “Dirty Thursday” – the commotion and the costumes were the main event. There was drinks everywhere, sausages being sizzled, families dressed in clever ensembles, people setting up camp near the street for the main parade and, my favorite, hundreds of bands playing music in all corners of the city.
It was such a joyful day. Grown men were giggly, children were excited, tourists were amazed. Everyone seemed to be having the time of their lives.
When we asked Jimmy Neutron what the heck was going on he told us “it’s a celebration of life!”, then he high-fived us. When we asked Zombie Superman what people do about work, he laughed and said, “no one goes to work.” Davy Jones from Pirates of the Caribbean told us the costumes get better and better as the festival goes on. We came the first day of the festival (always the Thursday before Ash Wednesday), CAN YOU IMAGINE THE COSTUMES ON THE LAST DAY!
Once we have a family, Jack and I have decided we will be moving to Lucerne every year for the month of February and partaking in Faschnat. Imagine the possibilities if we start working on our costumes now.