Around this time last year I received a text from a friend asking me to pick him up on my way home from the office and drop him off at his house.
As I waited outside in my car at the agreed upon meeting place my mind wandered. My reverie was quickly interrupted when a man in head-to-toe gold Lamé climbed into the passenger seat. He looked like an adult Aladdin right down to the pointed, curly-toed shoes.
“I must look a bit strange to you,” uttered my friend.
Strange didn’t even begin to capture what was running through my mind. I was still trying to get used to the lederhosen and dirndl and now here I was trying to cope with the fact that I had a human Aladdin in my car. I think I can still hear the awkward laugh that escaped from me in reply.
A few days later a bus painted in wild colours passed by with all sorts of colourfully dressed people within. When I say people, I am referring to adults.
“Carnival season,” said my friend.
This weekend while in the Dornbirn Marktplatz, lets say I was a bit more prepared when I heard the sound of trumpets and whistles blasting and turned to see a parade of adults and children all dressed in orange heading for a snow bank.
As I write this I struggle to find some sort of Canadian or North American equivalent for comparison – but I cannot. It is truly a unique experience, and one that has a rich history. Not just a one-day event, carnival is referred to as more of a “season.” More common in Catholic and, to a lesser extent, Easter Orthodox societies, Carnival Season, or Fasching as it called here in Austria, begins six weeks before Lent – so when it actually begins is connected with when Easter falls of that particular year.
I don’t even know if I fully understand the motivation behind it - but I am intrigued. So this year, I’m in. I don’t know if I am prepared to don the wild attire that so many of the people do here – but as they say “when in Rome…”