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Mariner Carnival or “Schifferfastnacht” as it is called here…

We have been to a mariner carnival at Saxon Switzerland. Something new for us. We both come from the Rhineland and we know a thing or two about it… But the mariner carnival somehow is different…

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The first thing that stands out is the date. The mariner carnival in Postelwitz takes always place at the first weekend in February. So it is not on Rose Monday or Shrove Tuesday. No. It is always at the same date.

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Here you can also see carnival groups. But they look quite different. Like they just came from ‚Love Boat‘. All dressed in sailor suits or captain’s uniform. And they do carry flags. Rather serious.

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The battle call is not ‚Alaaf‘ or ‚Helau‘ and also not ‚Halt Pohl‘ or ‚Schöpp Op‘ but ‚Ahoi!‘. But it sounds rather seldom. At the speech in the beginning before the parade and again when the floats meet after the turn and drive back.

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The floats are self built and some are elaborate and creative. There are political subjects but also regional subjects. In Postelwitz it seemed to be the theme „wellness“. One group even sits in a heated tub and takes a bath.

2017 this event took place for the 405th time and thus has a very long tradition.

There are costumes that look like ‚Lappenclowns‘. Here they are called ‚Fleckenmann‘. And they lead the parade. A kind of a dancing group marches by. A saber on the head. A fool imitates them. But they don’t really dance.

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It is striking that the puplic is uninvolved. There is neither applause for the creative costumes and buildings on the floats nor swaying or dancing or partying in any form. Nobody cheers or shouts the  battle call.

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There is no motto for the parade. Everyone creates something on their own. There are bark beetles from the national park or wild boars on a field. Everybody cares about things that bother them.

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There is no special pastries or food. But alcohol. So called sutlers walk around and sell schnaps. When the schnaps is sold out the trade kisses. That sounds familiar. Bonbons and bunches are not thrown here.

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Some figures and costumes look traditionally. We had the chance to talk so some of the figures. Other figures and groups were a riddle.

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Good that there are sites that explain everything (German). The figures or ‚roles‘ as they are called and also the course of events.

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Like a lot of carnival traditions it is all about cast out winter. The mariners needed spring to start working again so that they could make some money. When the Elbe was frozen or not navigable they did not earn anything. Therefore there are so many relations to shipping. The so called roles are very important and are taken seriously. For the mariners it was their life and their work.

How wonderful that such traditions are carried on.

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It sounds really interesting that after the parade all doors and houses are open for reciprocal visits and treats. So it looks that we went away far too early…

If you would like to enjoy such a mariner carnival there are several possibilities as there are nearly each weekend parades from January to March. Here you can find the dates.

All Photos © Waltzing Meurers

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