Altweiberfasching: ladies take the reigns Thursday during ‘Old Women’s Fasching’11
By Petra Lessoing, 86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
/ Published February 24, 2011
RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany -- The crazy season of Fasching is reaching its peak. Parties, dances and other Fasching activities will continue until Ash Wednesday, March 9.
One of the most important Fasching days will be observed Thursday. It's "Altweiberfasching," which literally translated means "old women's Fasching." Actually, it's the day specifically reserved for women during the "fifth season."
The event always is observed the Thursday before Rose Monday. Traditionally, females dress as old women or witches. They gather up, walk down the streets, sing songs and in some towns they storm the town halls. They constantly look for victims - men wearing ties. As soon as they see a man with a tie - on the street, in a store, in an office -- they get out a pair of scissors and "attack" the man, which means they cut his tie.
Depending on the area in which the tie cutting is performed, the woman might ask the man to either buy her a drink or lose the tie, or she cuts the tie and kisses the man.
Women are allowed to act crazy that day and have fun without their "better halves."
The tradition of women participating in Fasching goes back to the 15th century. During sermons, priests were complaining about the exchange of clothes between women and men. In 1558, the city council of Überlingen at Lake Constance was forced to prohibit women's Fasching celebrations in female taverns and dormitories, because of women's indecent behavior. But the women referred to their female rights such as drinking and dancing during specific Fasching days.
Altweiberfasching also marks the status of women in the 15th and 16th century. Wives had well-defined rights, since they were the budget keepers. During the crazy season they sat in judgment of other women who didn't clean the house or didn't take care of the children. Later, in several towns in Southern Germany, it became customary to sit in judgment of men. Women usually met in the conference rooms of town halls. That's why nowadays women still "storm" the town halls on Altweiberfasching to take over control and become fully liberated as on no other day.
In Köln, which is one of the main locations to celebrate Altweiberfasching and street carnival, women started protesting against the male government in the 1880s. The three most important persons of Fasching in Köln - the prince, the peasant and the virgin, who actually is a man dressed like a woman - officially open Köln's street carnival. During the opening session, the lord mayor calls out the official carnival shout "Kölle Alaaf." Now it's up to the women to start their hunt.
In Ramstein-Miesenbach, traditionally on Altweiberfasching, women in disguise storm the Rathaus (town hall) at 11:11 a.m. and capture men. They take them outdoors and tie them to the "Narrenbrunnen," fool's fountain. Then they cut the men's ties and for the fee of €1.11 or more, captives will be set free again.
Customarily women who cut ties that day hang them up as trophies. And men don't always notice the attack on time, because women doing that are not always in disguise.
Kill-joys won't wear a tie that day or choose to wear an old one they don't need any longer.
Several clubs and associations in the KMC will host special Altweiberfasching events. The biggest one in the KMC takes place under the motto "Fasching 2011 - Welcome to the Orient" 8 p.m. Thursday in Niederkirchen's community hall, Westpfalzhalle. Tickets cost €10 at the door. For details, visit www.sgnm.de.
The Kaiserslautern carnival association KVK will start its party with the band Favorits at 8 p.m. Thursday at their club house, An der Kalause 11, 67659 Kaiserslautern (on Gartenschau grounds, up the road from Papasote restaurant).
Other Altweiberfasching parties with dancing will start 8:11 p.m. at the Bürgerhaus in Reichenbach-Steegen and in the Schallodenbach Sportheim.