What we call Karneval or Fasching in Germany is known as Mardi Gras in the southern United States. The fact that this celebration, complete with costumes and more, is so enthusiastically embraced, especially in New Orleans, is no coincidence. Whether it's Dia de los Muertos in Mexico or the world-famous Brazilian Carnival, the further south you go from New Orleans, the higher the spirits and the extravagance of the costumes.
Karneval & Fasching – Typically German
Today's Karneval, despite the festive atmosphere, has primarily ecclesiastical roots. In the Catholic Church, the Carnival was established before the start of Lent as an occasion to consume the remaining winter supplies before they could spoil during the fasting period. With the Reformation, many traditions, including Carnival, were questioned in many parts of Germany, and unlike primarily Catholic neighboring countries such as Switzerland or Austria, the Carnival tradition disappeared from large parts of Germany for a long time. During that time, Carnival was celebrated primarily as a costume and masquerade ball in castles and noble houses, of course, with appropriate party drinks.
The tradition was revived in the 19th century after the end of the French occupation in what are now Prussian territories in northern Germany. The first public street Carnivals of modern times included the still legendary Cologne Carnival, whose famous cry “Kölle Allaf” was first shouted to welcome the Prussian king after the end of the occupation in Cologne.
However, the Carnival gained its popularity in the 1990s when a veritable Carnival boom swept through Germany, finding followers even in predominantly Catholic areas. Today, there is still a strict distinction between traditional Fastnacht and modern Carnival in places like Baden-Württemberg or Bavaria, even though the celebrations with feasts, parades, and a penchant for hearty thirst-quenchers are now quite similar in many aspects.
For all beer enthusiasts, whether during Karneval or Fastnacht, we currently have great treats on offer that taste fantastic not only during Carnival. The 2 new popcorn flavors, “Budweiser” and “Pale Ale,” combine sweet and crunchy caramel with the yeasty taste of freshly tapped beer. Ideal for on-the-go or for cozy celebrations on the couch.
By the way, the name Fasching, which is used mainly in East Germany, Bavaria, and Austria, also has its roots in the love for hops and malt. The word is an abbreviation for “Fastenschank,” which refers to the last major beer serving before the start of the fasting period.