Short overview of the Basler Fasnacht or Basel Carnival
This year the Basel Carnival took place from 19th to 21st of February 2018, for the first time as a Unesco World Heritage.
As always, it started with the Morgestraich – a word that cannot be translated. Look at this link from the Luzernerzeitung, to see how, on Monday at precisely 4 o’clock a.m., the lights go out, the drums and pipes start playing and the lanterns start to “walk” through the dark night. This is the magic moment that kicks off our “three extraordinary days”.The 2018 motto is: “D’Boscht goot ab” which means “we are kicking it off right”, but which in addition alludes to the post offices (Boscht) that are changing dramatically right now.
Many of the topics taken up at the 2018 Carnival were political. I will present some of the political and some of the more cheerful topics by strolling through the lantern exhibition at the Münsterplatz (Cathedral Square) which takes place all Tuesday and on Wednesday morning. During this time the Cliquen or carnival groups do not need their lanterns. They pick them up again later on Wednesday for the second parade or cortège. In the cortèges of Monday and Wednesday, the lanterns match the masks and the disguise to illustrate the topics selected by the groups.
Also the Schnitzelbanggsänger (some sort of minstrels) comment the events of the year. Here are two verses about fake news and about #metoo (both sung by Stächpalme which in biology is a holly. However, literally translated it is a “biting palm tree” alluding to the biting comments the Stächpalme makes).
Dr Trump het gnueg vom wysse Huus und wird neu Chef vo Twitter
Dr Pabscht hürootet d’Lindysey Vonn und landet hinter Gitter
D‘Merkel schtolkt dr Macron z’Nacht im Dussel – s’isch e Gruus,
D’Queen kifft mit em Butler – ich verfolg der Fake Niuus Bluus.
Trump is sick of the White House and now became head of Twitter,
the Pope marries Lindsey Vonn and ends up behind bars.
Merkel stalks Macron at night when drunk – it is just gloomy.
The Queen smokes weed with her Butler – I am following the Fake News Blues.
Jetzt goot’s em Santiglaus an Kraage.
die alt Frau Niggli isch am Klaage,
Er hege’re vor 80 Joor – sy heig das lang verdrängt -,
won‘r sy in Sagg geschteggt heg, ans lingge Schynbai aneglänggt.
Now Santa Clause has a problem.
Old Mrs Wicky is complaining,
it was 80 years ago – she has suppressed that for a long time -,
that, when pushing her in his sack, he touched her left shinbone.
During Carnival the weather was mostly clouded, sometimes sunny. It never rained. Temperatures were chilly, as the frozen Tingueley fountain shows.
Even the ducks avoided the water – simply too cold.
The exhibition of lanterns on Tuesday and on Wednesday morning
Our Cathedral from the 11th and 14th century is a great background for the lanterns exhibited at the Münsterplatz or Cathedral Square.
Let me start with the lanterns about fake news, the digital world and the sharing economy. Important details on the lanterns are the small verses – I will try to translate some of them.
The Barbara Clique takes up the topic “Fake News” and transcribing it to our local dialect “alles glooge, feyk niuus” – “all lies – fake news”.
Their lantern is a big Pinocchio on one side.
Pinocchio’s long nose alludes to the fact that he often lies – and this is what fake news are about – lies.
The other side of the lantern shows all the well known politicians looking down into hell where Pinocchio is emerging.
These are some of the verses: “Isch dr Trump am Twittere, isch die ganzi Wält am Zittere” – When Trump is twittering, the whole world is shivering”. And “Dr Trump froogt dr Erdogaan, lyydisch au an Greessewaan?” – Trump asks Erdogan, do you also suffer from delusions of grandeur?”
Walking around the lantern I find this verse: “S’git Lyt, die dien sich soo verbiege, dass sy nit mergge, dass sy liege” – some people are distorting their body so much that they do not notice that they are lying” (distorting alludes to lies).
And another small detail: “Do im Roothuus dien si liege, bis sich alli Bälgge biege” – “Here in (our) townhall they are lying that all beams are being distorted.” In our dialect (and also in German), “to lie, until the beams are being distorted” or “to lie, until you are distorted” means that you are REALLY lying.
The group Seibi Mysli (little mice from the Seibi or Barfüsser Square) transformed the alternative facts into our dialect: “Lätz geschwätzti Facts” or “Wrongly stated facts”. The verse says “do muesch dy frooge, verglemmi alles glooge” – you have to ask, what the deuce, all just lies” (“verglemmi” is a rather soft swearword in the Basel dialect, I am not sure, how to translate that into English).
And the washer women are complaining: “Mir Wöschfraue könne de News nümme draue” – We washer women can no longer trust the news”.
A digital world
Digital was another topic coming up – everything goes digital, even the war. But there are also more cheerful sides about digital, which are google omnipresent for searching and the Emojis.
The most innovative (and I assume, the most expensive) lantern was the globe made by the “d’Revoluzzer”. It is not a painted lantern, but it consists out of 40 screens that are changing scenes. The globe weighs more than a ton and is pulled on a cart. By the way, when you pronounce “digital” in Basel, it comes out like “digidal”.
Digital may end up in a digital war, as this gloomy figure illustrates grabbing everything in its way.
The young department of the group (Clique) Rätz show a more cheerful aspect of digital. They ask “Dänggsch no oder guuglisch scho?” – “Do you still think our do you already google?” “Google” is transcribed to “guugle” and is often used as a verb in our local dialect (Du guuglisch=you google).
Without thinking first, the Jungi Rätz comment that we often google everything such as “WorumWärWasWämWoWieWenn” – WhyWhoWhatWhomWhereHowWhen”.
The very small guys of the Naarebaschi (very small guys are “Binggis” in Basel) illustrate the topic “Emoji instead of ABC”. Maybe the Binggis hope that they do no longer have to learn, how to write, but can use Emoji instead. At the cortège (parade) they all came disguised as Emojis – a great topic for small guys or Binngis.
The lantern of the Binggis gives an overview of Emojis. I particularly like the brownish emoji with the happy face.
The Wiehlmys or digging mice (I also found the “biological expression” “root vole”) propose to “rent a mouse” which in our dialect can be expressed as “Muuslehne”.
The verse on the cash says “Nyt me, was me nyt uuslehne kaa, fir Gäld kasch aifach alles ha” or “Nothing that you cannot rent, for money you can have everything.” Yes, I have heard that you can even rent sheep to cut your lawn…
Let us put off some more lanterns of the Cathedral Square exihibition for some later blogs.