It’s not a drunk, a Stooge, or an anvil about to land on the Roadrunner’s head. It’s one of many Karneval / Fasnacht / Fasnet / Fasching events in Germany.
If you don’t know about Karneval (I didn’t), it’s basically a German version of Mardi Gras: costumes, parades, and a whole lotta debauchery. How and when it is celebrated depends largely on the region of Germany where you just happen to find yourself.
Generally, the big festivities start five to seven days before Ash Wednesday. In some regions, it starts with a Women’s Day that involves chicks chopping ties off dudes and giving them a kiss for their trouble. I didn’t see any of that today; rather, I saw many people wearing white pj’s for Hemdglunker.
Unfortunately, there’s about zero info regarding this Hemdglunker thing in English online. So, I’m just going to have to tell you how the kindergarten kids celebrated and what the teachers told me. Ha!
I was told that Hemdglunker was a pajama party and that T-Rex should come to school wearing his jammies today. But, the party was not at the school; it was in the street. The children were supposed to march around the town and beg for sweets in certain shops. Interesting.
I should mention it’s about 40 degrees (F) with a vicious arctic wind. Pj’s just aren’t gonna cut it in this weather. I tried to think of how he could wear them, be warm, and not look dumb. Oh, what a thoughtful mama I am, though unsuccessfully so.
Still undecided about the weather worthiness of my lil’ dude’s outfit, I glanced out the window this morning to see if any other kids were sporting night wear on their way to school. Nope, not one. I panicked a little on T-Rex’s behalf and, at the last minute, suggested he wear jeans to school and change there. In haste, I also threw in one of Doc Sci’s white undershirts in case I wanted to try to make an old-fashioned sleeping cap out of it.
Well, it seems I’m some kind of thinker because, as it turns out, the pj’s were supposed to be WHITE. No one told me this! All the kids were in white or Raggedy Ann-style outfits. Poor T-Rex in his red and blue dog jams, so adorable and yet so out of place. No worries though. After everyone was bundled up and wearing similar white undershirts over their winter coats, he fit right in. Phew.
Okay, enough about my freaking out about my child’s potential freakishness.
The kids walked around town, led by the teachers, singing at the top of their lungs and banging homemade noisemakers. We stopped at a restaurant, a tobacco shop, a bank, a church office, and a hearing aid store. Could that itinerary be any more mish-mashed?
Each place provided something (sugary) for the children (and their parents). One mom told me that the kids get “way too many sweets” during this time. She also compared it to Halloween. Well, let’s just suffice to say this mom ain’t never seen an American Halloween kid’s loot. The kids got one piece of candy at each place. The hearing aid store gave the children donut holes. Two donut holes. Livin’ life dangerously – watch it now!
So, why the white pajamas? Apparently, it has to do with some tradition about women washing men’s clothes on Thursdays. But on this particular Thursday as the story goes, the women refuse to wash the shirts and just leave them lying around on the riverbank. (This is the story I was told.) What that has to do with children in pajamas, cold fusion, or the meaning of life, I have no idea, earthly or otherwise.
The loud shouting and singing is supposedly to scare away the winter so that spring will come. I don’t think these boys ‘n girls scared anyone. In fact, my face might now be lurking somewhere on YouTube. Oh please oh please oh please don’t go looking. Wind. Donut holes. Bad hair day. Silly songs in a language I barely speak. You get the idea.
Anyhow, all of this hoopla took about two hours. We returned to the kindergarten frozen and exhausted. But the best part of all?
My kids took a verrrry good nap today.
Stay tuned – tomorrow is the actual Fasnacht Party!