Finally Faschings, more or less correctly

Faschingsfest is one of those things that was entirely new to us when we got here.  If you’re not from this part of the world, you most likely have no idea what Faschingsfest is (I even had one friend who thought, when she read it on my blog, that I was swearing particularly colorfully).  It is the German name for a Carnivale or Mardi Gras celebration.  It’s much more common and widespread here, but significantly less . . . rowdy . . . than a typical American Mardi Gras celebration.  In fact, a lot of the celebration of Faschings is for children.

Since it was new to us when we arrived, it took us a while to “get” it.  I really had no idea what was expected in terms of celebrating Faschings.  I was told that kids dressed up in costumes — that it is a lot like Halloween back at home, but without trick-or-treating, and then everyone ate krapfen.  Yeah . . . it’s not really like that.

I mean, it IS, in that kids DO dress up in costumes.  But Faschings costumes are happy and bright, and not at all scary.  Every Faschings costume I’ve ever seen is also store-bought, and usually directly based on a TV show or popular character.  Butterflies, Spider-Man, pirates and princesses are very big (pirates were very, very popular this year), but ghosts and skeletons are a no go.  Our first year, we had no idea what to do, but B solved that problem by being sick and missing his class party.  Our second year, B dressed as an Ewok, which I thought would be perfect — cute, cuddly, not scary, suitably commercial and store-bought — ta da!  Nope, it was a bit to esoteric for his school.  The fact that no one knew exactly what he was made them look at us very oddly.  The following year, L insisted on wearing B’s old Ewok costume (even though I knew it wouldn’t be quite right) but B dressed as a Brazilian soccer player, which had the advantage of being recognizable and very popular among kids his age, but the detriment of not being very costume-like.  Still, we were getting close.

557I think we got it this year.  B’s school, being an international school, and not an Austrian school, did not celebrate Faschings at all (nor did they celebrate Halloween, which was a bummer), but for his own class celebration, L dressed as a knight, and I think it was just right.  (He also brought a foam sword with him, and though we probably would have been severely chastised for bringing a “weapon” had we been in the US, it was not noteworthy here — when he got too enthusiastic with it, they simply put it away until it was time for him to go home.)

L was a charming and gallant knight for Faschings, and it seems that a good time was had by all.  It’s nice to not feel quite so much like a fish out of water when it comes to these things — it’s only taken us 4 years to catch on!


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.

021The 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.

029With 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.


Today was the Faschingsfest celebration at B’s school — an Austrian version of Carnival or Mardi Gras.  It’s basically a big pre-lent party.  Last year, B was sick and missed out on Faschingsfest, so this was our first, and we weren’t sure what it would be like.

022We knew that Faschingsfest is the big costume dress holiday here, similar, in that way, to Halloween in the US, except with an emphasis on cute and funny costumes, rather than scary ones.  Still, we didn’t know quite what it would be like, and it’s a little stressful to get your kid dressed for an almost-but-not-quite Halloween dress up party for school when you’re not at all sure what he should be wearing.  We had to make an educated guess on costumes, and we decided to choose from what we already have (because, if you’re equally likely to get it wrong either way, better to not invest the money in a new costume).  B considered his options and elected to go as an Ewok.  When we arrived at school this morning, he was very much in keeping with the correct spirit of the costumes — there was a princess, two kings, a knight, two Spidermen, two Batmen, a clown, a penguin, several pirates, a fireman and a Pippi Longstocking.  I think he chose perfectly.

They celebrated with games, hot dogs, candy, a puppet theater and balloons.  According to B, it was a “great day”.  Our first Faschingsfest was a success!