Basler Fasnacht is the biggest carnival in Switzerland.
It is probably the only Protestant carnival in the world.
Fasnacht is often referred to as "The Most Wonderful Three Days",
in the local language, "Die Drey Scheenschte Dääg".
This magnificient festival dates back to the 14th Century.
Fasnacht starts at 4:00AM on Monday after Ash Wednesday.
It lasts exactly three days untill 4:00AM on Thursday.
This means that it is held a week later than other carnivals.
About a month before the Fasnacht period,
people in Basel start wearing a badge called "Blagedde".
The Blagedde comes in four versions: Copper (Fr. 8),
Silver (Fr. 15), Gold (Fr. 45) and Bijou (Fr. 100).
The money raised will be used to cover the cost of the parades.
The design of the Blagedde changes every year.
The photo shows the Blaggedde of the year 2007.
On Monday at precisely 4:00AM, the lights
in the city centre are switched off. The streetlights are also
turned off. The audience is not allowed to use a camera flash.
The parade proceeds in complete darkness.
All that we can see is illuminated by canvas lanterns.
This event is called the "Morgenstraich".
||Mehlsuppe, Zwiebelwähe, Käsewähe
On the way back from the Morgenstraich, people traditionally eat
Mehlsuppe (soup made from flour and onion) and
Zwiebelwähe (onion pie) or Käsewähe (cheese pie),
which are sold on the street.
It was unfortunately raining a little on Monday,
but many people gathered in the city centre to see the parade.
The very first thing that Harry and his master saw in the parade
was a pack of white poodles playing the piccolos.
A musical group of piccolos and drums is called "Clique".
A Clique is the oldest formation of Fasnacht and plays traditional music.
There are also brass bands called "Gugge" in the parade.
They are newer formations and play pop or rock'n roll kinds of music.
Gugges do not participate in Morgenstraich.
Both Cliques and Gugges march around the city wearing beautiful
(and sometimes odd) costumes and masks.
The "Waggis", a character with huge fluffy hair, huge red nose and
huge teeth, threw fruits, eggs, sweets and flowers from their floats.
The Waggis are Alsatian farmers, who in the past, started rolling up
to Basel to sell their produce in the end of Winter.
The Waggis usually throw lots of goodies from a truck called "Waage".
They look a little scary, but in fact, they are very affectionate.
Though they sometimes throw Räppli in stead to make fun of people.
The lady behind Harry approached the Waage to have some flowers.
Then one of the Waggis grabbed her arm and poured green Räppli
on her head. But in the end, she got what she wanted.
||Gifts from the Waggis
Waggis usually give gifts with a taste of the Spring.
The photo shows what Harry's master collected from the parade.
The yellow toy chicken was for Harry.
When Harry approached a Waage, a kind Waggis gave it to Harry,
saying "Firs Hundeli!" ("For the dog!").
Music and beautiful costumes are not the only aims of the parades.
Most musical groups have something to criticise or to say to the public.
Each opinion is called "Sujet", a French word for "Subject".
Sujets are usually reffered from incidents in the recent years,
and they are criticised in a sarcastic way.
Sujets are also drawn on huge canvass lanterns.
The lantern in the photo has a Sujet, that warns the danger of smoking
to people's health.
Tuesday is the day for children and families.
Children (and often their parents) wear costumes like Halloween in the US.
There are many little Waggis, princesses, and knights on the streets.
Harry joined the crowd wearing the Ladybird costume.
||Little Waggis tend to throw more Räppli than goodies.
The streets were quickly covered with colourful Räppli.
Harry and his master decided to go home early on that day
to avoid the storm of Räppli.
||Parade at Night
The music continues even during the night.
This is Freiestrasse, the main street, at 12:00 midnight.
It is a strange sight to see the musical groups marching
through the city centre, where all the shops are closed.
At 12:00 midnight On Wednesday, Harry and his master went out for a walk
to see the finale of this year's Fasnacht.
Some Cliques and Gugges were still lively playing the music loud,
while some are resting on the street side and drinking beer.
Harry and his family live in the city of Basel.
So they had to live with this loud music for the three days and nights.
They missed the music so much afterwhile.
They are really looking forward to the next year's Fasnacht,
which will be held on 11-13 February 2008!