here ya go.
Here's something that was sent to my husbands work place today.
CT23 Cultural Tidbits: Season of Fools (1)
Whether in the Karneval area along the Rhine or in the Fasching
area in Baden-Württemberg
and Bayern, "die drei tollen Tage" (the three crazy days) are celebrated at the same time, namely the three days before Ash Wednesday. However, in many places the fools are on the loose and get into the spirit as early as January 6th, feast of the Three Kings.
One day of special observance that precedes the three Shrove Days is the Thursday before Ash Wednesday. In the Karneval area it is called "Alt’ Weiber Donnerstag" and is a kind of Sadie Hawkins’s Day on which the women take the initiative and chase the men. Beware, if you are a man and live in that area, for the women are out for trophies on that day and will cut off your tie! (considered a phallic symbol!) Many men wear turtleneck sweaters that day, but quite a number of "sporty" men go along with the gag and even buy an extra number of (cheap) ties for the occasion.
In the Fasching area this day is called "Schmotziger Donnerschtig". The word "schmotzig" is very close to "schmutzig" which means "dirty", but the word actually comes from "schmalzig", which means "greasy" (cf. Mardi Gras: greasy Tuesday). In former times, it was on this day that the pigs were slaughtered and the meat was prepared for Easter and thereafter, for during Lent no meat was eaten. Some say that the practice of smoking ham (Schwarzwälder Schinken) had its origin here. In any case, even to this day, you will find that on this Thursday bakeries will sell "Fasnetküchle" (Fasching cookies), which are a kind of donut fried in the fresh grease of the pigs slaughtered on this day (They taste much better than it sounds!).
Also on this day, many smaller communities in the Fasching area will raise a "Narrenbaum" (the tree of fools), which is a long pine tree with all the branches and the bark removed, except on the very top. On these remaining branches they hang sausages and pretzels and other charms, they grease the trunk and then, to the great amusement of the bystanders, young brave folks try to shinny up the slippery tree to fetch one of the lofty prizes.
In certain citadels of Fasching, such as Neuhausen by Stuttgart, Riedlingen and Villingen-Schwenningen this Thursday is the day for the "Hexensprung" (the jump of the witches). There will be a huge bonfire at sunset and the witches will pole vault over the fire on their brooms while making frenzied noises and gestures. If there is snow, so much the better; for sweeping the snow with their brooms is symbolic of sweeping out the evil spirits of winter, which is, after all, what Fasching is all about.
As you can see, there are a great number of activities these days; every community has its own flavor and its own traditions. If you are interested in these events, consult your local German newspapers. This year Ash Wednesday is on February 25; so Saturday’s (Feb. 21st) issue of a local paper should be a good source for Fasching schedules.
Dr. Werner J. Dobner