Fasnacht 2019. Photo: TES.

The Fasnacht started at 04.00

The Fasnacht started at 04.00, Morgestraich, Monday morning 11 March, with the striking of the church bells of the St. Martin Church, the oldest parish church of Basel, on the hill near the Münster. Thousands of participants set themselves in motion throughout the city and often narrow alleys with their piccolo’s, drums, costumes and especially satire about national, international and local politics and events. It is a festival of music and rhythm, which bears little resemblance to the carnival, as celebrated in Germany or the Netherlands, but rather with a costumed musical ball on the street. The use of drums originates in the inspection of the militia of the guilds up to the 18th century, which was always inspected around the beginning of Lent early in the morning, from where also the early time comes.

The Fasnacht in its present form has taken shape since the beginning of the twentieth century. Especially the massive influx of emigrants from Germany from 1850, the beginning of the industrialisation in Basel, gave the Fasnacht for a while even a German carnival character, including a prince Carnival and the use of High German, but that disappeared entirely after 1910 and the establishment of the Fasnacht committee and the integration of these emigrants. It is now a unique event, also given the date: based on the old Catholic calendar from before 1091, when the current Lent was established and adopted by Catholic Europe, except in Switzerland, or rather Basel and a few other municipalities in the region. Further information can be found under the heading local history.  The Museum of Cultures (Museum der Kulturen) in Basel has a separate section dedicated to the Fasnacht (www.