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Basler Carnival

The Swiss call it 'Basler Fasnacht' or 'Morgestraich'


Morgestraich in Basel, clique shows their lanterna, mostly political subjects
Clique with their lanterns

Bild: Basel Tourismus


The Swiss Carnival in Basel, known as "Basler Fasnacht," has its origins dating back to the Middle Ages. While the exact origins are not precisely documented, it is believed to have roots in pagan traditions celebrating the end of winter and the arrival of spring.

The earliest records of Basel's Carnival date back to the 14th century, where it was already a well-established tradition. Over time, it evolved to incorporate elements of Catholic rituals and became closely tied to the pre-Lenten period, particularly the days leading up to Ash Wednesday. This period, known as "Fasnacht," is a time of revelry and festivity before the solemnity of Lent.

The Protestant Reformation in the 16th century attempted to suppress Carnival celebrations in Basel, but the tradition persisted, albeit with modifications to adapt to the changing religious and social landscape. Today, the Basler Fasnacht is one of the largest and most elaborate Carnival celebrations in Switzerland, attracting thousands of participants and spectators from around the world.

The Basel Carnival is characteried by its distinctive traditions, including elaborate costumes, colorful parades, and unique musical performances by "Cliques" (groups of participants playing various instruments). It typically begins on the Monday after Ash Wednesday (called "Morgestraich") and lasts for precisely 72 hours, ending at 4:00 AM on Thursday morning with the "Endstraich."

Overall, the Swiss Carnival in Basel is a vibrant and culturally significant event that has been celebrated for centuries, reflecting the region's rich history and traditions.