One must excuse Germans for not being interested in what’s happening in the East. They have more important matters on their minds.
It is Fasching. Since last Thursday, parties and parades and crazy behavior have ruled the land. Normally straight-laced people are expected to be foolish, and party-poopers are harassed, teased, or ignored. Fun is allowed, whereas seriousness is the norm for the rest of the year. Politicians are ridiculed with impunity and they grim and bear it. The only thing not tolerated is drinking and driving, but that does not stop people.
Today, I enjoyed a seasonal speciality, whose availability coincides with Fasching (see earlier Word of the Day). Let me qualify that statement: good ones are available during the winter months, when Germans act foolishly and blame Fasching, while mediocre ones are available all year. I am talking about something known as a Kreppel or Berliner, which is a jelly donut. And, the filling must be raspberry. Not just any old jelly donut: a great jelly donut produced by a good baker. Bad ones are available at grocery stores, gas stations, and run-of-the-mill bakers.
Today, enjoyed the first of many for this season. I would rather go without than eat a bad jelly donut. I have the good fortune to live in a town in which one bake makes the best in the world. I know, because over the years I have tried many around the world and eaten a whole bunch.
I remember donuts being a special treat as a child. My father would drive to a donut shop. I always chose glazed (sometimes called honey dipped, despite the glazing being sugar and water) and jelly. I turned up my nose at any kind.
Now, I enjoy only Kreppel. I have found that one not enough, but that two can be too much…but I still eat every bite of the two. Even without trans fat, the ones I can buy in my town are better than any one can find at a donut shop in the United States or Canada. Tim Hortons is good, but comes in second in the jelly donut department. I eat a cinnamon roll, which German bakers have yet to master.
Your German Word of the Day: Weiberfasnacht. Weib is a colloquial term for female, woman, wife. Avid readers of this blog should be able to guess that fasnacht has something to do with Fasching, which is Carnival in Germany.
Now that I have done a bit to broaden a horizon or two, back to the main thrust...
Weiberfasnacht falls on the Thursday before Ash Wednesday (today is Thursday ergo Weiberfasnacht is in full swing). It is the day on which woman are allowed to be foolish in their own right (ie. without male supervision or companionship). The only significant aspect, which I recall from my days working at German companies, is that women go around cutting off men's neckties. Even presidents and chairmen of the board feat women bearing shears, who can wield the weapon on this day with impunity (whereas on the remaining 364 are expected to be servile and shearless). Men, being on occasion clever, have learned to not wear a tie on this particular Thursday or to wear one suitable for mutilation (the one with olive oil or tomato sauce stains). This ritual is enjoyed by all participants, except those that forget and wear a favorite tie. This is another example of German "fun", the discovery of which should surely appeal to ethnologists.
Below is an example of a perfect costume for Weiberfasnacht, worn by my daughter. For those of you not familiar with the Asterix comic series, this is his sidekick Obelix. He is strong and and not too bright (imagine what a chauvinist, which I am not, could do with that image and description).
Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.