Morgestraich Part I

Where have I been lately? That's a post that I'm mulling over for another day.

Last weekend, though, I was in Basel with M. getting ready for Basel's famous annual three day party with the dual purpose of chasing away the winter and celebrating and making fun of life in Basel. For the last few weeks there has been a buzz all around town as the preparations for this even became more visible. Stray drummers could be seen riding home from practice on the tram at night. The normally elegant and reserved shop windows were dressed with streamers and confetti, masks and drums.

On Saturday, the stage was set with Mother Nature making the first move and dumping somewhere in the neighborhood of 18-24" of snow on us. The snow set records in Zürich for the most snowfall ever recorded in such a short time and was very impressive to watch.

The snow begins...

and continues...

and finally ends!

So after bundling up, on Sunday night we rode the train out of the SBB to Liechstal, another small town about 10 minutes away and I got my first taste of what the Basel celebration would be like. Then again, this celebration had its own unique flair. M. and I were with several of my colleagues, a rag-tag crew or as one guy at a bar called us, The League of Nations.

We wandered through the narow streets and people were everywhere. Music was playing around every corner, fun samba rhythms, piccolos, and drums pounding. Little stands were set up for selling several kinds of grilled sausages, beer and glüwein. Dusk started to fall and people were hanging out of their windows above the streets while the cold moon kept watch from high above. The crowd got louder and louder, filled with glüwein and beer, and carts full of wood were being dragged up a big hill and then out of sight. Groups of men and women and occasionally transvestites wandered by in matching costumes and no one could resist letting out a yell and cat calls.

Just as the cold was becoming truly unbearable, a hush fell over the crowd and off in the distance we could see an orange glow and hear the pounding of drums. Down the narrow streets the procession started, and we weren't cold anymore.

First came the piccolo players followed by the drums.

Finally, there was the fire. Firemen stood by to sponge off the burning backs of the men and women carrying these big fire bouquets. Standing next to them was so hot I can only imagine how it must have felt to actually be carrying one of these things. There were so many of these torches that the procession took at least an hour.

All in all it was a very impressive sight and a perfect "warm-up" to the Basel festivities.

So we headed back to Basel around 11 PM to get some sleep before our 3:20 AM wake up call for it was fast upon us.

Posted From Munich


Expat Traveler said...

I was never up for the 4am parade but I sure love everything about the atmosphere, even if we went to the later parade. Fasnacht is just so much fun! Very nice pics of the flames.

Kirk said...

We had friends who went to the Liestal thing one year and were surprised to find lots of room close to the curb...it was only when the flaming carts came by and their clothes nearly melted that they realised why there was so much space up close. I read that this year's was actually more sedate than usual because of the snow.