We’re starting to get the hang of the whole Faschings thing, but we don’t quite celebrate it like locals yet. Although the purpose is completely different (it’s the Austrian version of Mardi Gras or Carnival) a lot of the celebration is effectively like Halloween. Kids and many adults wear costumes and the kids have big parties at school. It’s a pre-lent celebration, so there’s a certain focus on fun, frivolity and food.
The boys love it. They love getting to dress up in costumes for school, and they love their parties. This, being Liam’s first year of school, it was also his first year to truly participate in the fun of Faschingsfest. Unlike for Halloween, when I tend to encourage the kids to opt for a spooky costumes made of things we might already have at home, each year that we’ve been here for Faschings I’ve tried to convince them to go shopping with me for a costume. The difference is that, as an American, I’m experienced with Halloween — I’m pretty much an expert. I know all about how it works, so I can afford to be creative with the implementation.
With Faschings, I’m pretty ignorant, so I’ve always thought it’s safest to go purchase something, since I’m not an expert and I don’t really know what is most appropriate (and also, complete store-bought costumes are absolutely the norm). Most of the kids here tend to dress in happy/fun character costumes of some kind — lots of Batman, Spider-Man, firemen, fairies, butterflies, princesses, pirates and clowns. But my kids have never taken me up on the offer of a pre-Faschings costume shopping trip, so instead of browsing the selection at the toy store and choosing something Faschings-specific, my guys think of it as a second Halloween.
This year, they started out wanting to be Jedis (which, although very cute, isn’t really quite the kind of thing that kids dress as for Faschings — it’s a little too obscure for the average 3-5 year old in Austria). They got Jedi robes for Christmas, though, and they have great light sabers that would work with their costumes, so I was absolutely in favor of this plan. But then they each changed their minds a few times. Liam ended up deciding to use the Ewok costume B wore last year and B chose to go as “a soccer guy”.
They had a great time, and looked super cute. B only barely looked dressed up in a costume, and everyone thought Liam was a bear, but they were very happy. They had a clown come to their school and they ate cake with their classes. And then, at the end of the day, they each came home with a neatly wrapped krapfen to eat (another Faschings tradition) and a few small gifts from their teachers.
They loved it. We might not quite have it “right” yet, but though we’re not yet quite celebrating Faschings like the locals, we’ve definitely figured out the enthusiasm and the fun.