That Time When Masked Men Threw Oranges at Me in Switzerland

PART 2 of 2

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Oranges. A weird tradition is for the costumed paraders on their tractor (how did they get so many tractors to the third biggest city in Switzerland?) floats to throw craploads of oranges into the crowd. And if you do catch one, they keep throwing them at you until one falls down. We were sitting in a second floor open window and they threw them at us, poor windows. Anyway, that has to be the scariest and slipperiest part of Fasnacht.

Please don’t be mad at me for forgetting that Blaggedde is spelled with a B. They are carnival badges that can be bought from small vendors in a variety of versions. The money goes towards supporting the whole thing and helps you not get attacked by confetti throwers. Definitely don’t repeat my mistake of telling the vendors “no, thank you” cause I did not understand what they were yelling.

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Question, why do they throw so much stuff from the floats, I get confetti and…maybe even oranges, but they also threw things like flowers, chocolate, candy, plates, moisturizer, booze, suspenders, lipgloss and stuffed animals into the crowds. And again, I mean every single float did that for hours and hours. The things did not have any logos on them, so no advertising money, they must have cost a fortune. Those Swiss are a little insane.

Räppli. That is the Basel German word for confetti. During the parades, creepily masked men (and local children) throw INSANE amounts of it on you, afterwards you might get candy. They only throw single colored räppli though to make sure it has not been reused from last year. But seriously, the streets were swimming in it, never seen so much confetti in my entire life.

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Schnitzelbank. If I understood this correctly it is a type of satirical performance by clique members, making fun or current events and people. They are happening at many theaters and bars around. We tried watching one on TV but as I only speak and understand Hochdeutsch, I had problems getting the joke.

Think cliques are only a thing in high school? Well think again. Those masked groups that play flutes and drums are called cliques. There seemed to be a conductor in front, often with a more elaborate costume, sometimes showing loads of cleavage…for a man. Those cliques are so professional, I imagined  a group of buddies having fun but they do not stop playing for three days straight, it is insane.

U ever heard of Deichmann? OK, this has nothing to do with Fasnacht but it was still hilarious. Most of my shoes are from Deichmann (it has a big green D as a logo), they are cheap and good quality for the price. I have bought from them in Scotland, Bulgaria and Germany. In Switzerland they are called Dosenbach for I have no idea what reasons. Dose is a tin can so it makes even less sense.

Very cute green trams and colorful houses. Basel seems to have very distinct districts but a common factor are cute, retro green trams and high, yet narrow pastel toned houses.

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Waking up for Morgestraich. That is the local word for the event that starts the carnival. At exactly 4am all lights from stores and even street lights are turned off in the old town. The only light that remains comes from the lanterns. From then on, follow the cliques from the market square up and down the cobbled old town streets and enjoy. This was definitely my favorite part of it all, the mood and the music and the eeriness of all the masks really comes out in the dark. Whatever you do, do not use flash photography, it ruins the moment. In the morning hours, you can get flour soup and onion quiches in a lot of places to warm yourself up, both are really yummy! If you ever get the chance, definitely take part, you won’t regret it!

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X´citing shoes. A lot of the costumed people (mostly young people) seemed to wear those wooden shoes associated with the Netherlands. I have no clue if they have a special name in Switzerland but I hardly think it is a new fashion trend, so it has to have something to do with the carnival.

You wouldn’t believe how many flute players were there! Seriously, the flute industry in Basel must be booming!

Zeedel. These are a variety of long and colorful pieces of paper handed out by the different cliques. From what I understood they contain jokes and ironic poems about things on peoples minds.

Make sure to check out part ONE

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4 thoughts on “That Time When Masked Men Threw Oranges at Me in Switzerland

  1. Dear Sabina, I’m the flatmate of elinor, unfortunately we did not meet, but she showed me your ABC I’d really like to thank you for this funny, poetic, perfect analysis of the Fasnacht, I really enjoyed reading! And I can assure: the shoes (they are called “Zoggeli”) are not the new fashion trend 🙂

    • Hey Rahel, thanks for your kind comment and for letting me stay at your place, you guys have a great flat. Looking forward to possibly enjoying more odd but wonderful Swiss traditions in the future 🙂

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