Today I went to Bern. This was planned.

There was a loooong carnival parade. This was not planned, at least not by me, but probably by the participants. You can see some pictures here (at the bottom). [Actually, I still don’t quite understand why this carnival is held during Lent, the season of fasting and prayer in the Christian calendar. At least in Germany carnival is held just before.]

So far the only time I had seen a carnival parade in my life was in Mainz last year. (And this I how I looked then.) So I’m certainly not a carnivaligist, or whatever carnival experts are called.

Overall, it was fairly similar: Lots and lots of people in costumes parading. Still, it was interesting to try to spot the differences.

What I liked in Bern was that there were more carnival groups with music, actually at least 60% of the groups were marching bands in costume. [Btw, there seems to be a serious niche market for easy-to-play marching bands songs. The 30 bands or so which we saw shared a repertoire or about 10 songs, including Marmor, Stein und Eisen bricht.]

But two things were certainly missing: The Tanzmariechen and the Kamelle.

Two costume ideas I liked best:

First, a dress with a train which could be lifted up just like the tail of a pheasant. Pretty strong and surprising effect.

Second, well, that was actually not so much the costume but the “meta idea”. Most carnival groups try to dress up in identical costumes. All “individuality” is lost in favor of the group identity and the combined visual effect. But one group had found a good compromise. From the front they were all identical, but on their back they had personalized messages. Anything from a simple smiley to “Your ad could be here”. [… actually this gave me the idea of printing a t-shirt with the slogan “A clever slogan could be printed here” … A phrase which denies its own existence …]

Another small difference was that they had lots of confetti which you could also buy in plastic bags to throw at your fellow bystanders, or maybe to mark the way back to your home ala Hansel and Gretel.

So, all happy, happy, joy, joy? Well, mostly.

Except for one hate-fomenting group who, not surprisingly, was run by my favorite Swiss party, the SVP.

In case you’re not familiar with the whole “kick the black sheep out” hate campaign of the SVP, this picture might not evoke any immediate strong feelings in you. It shows a slaughtered black sheep, served as a dinner to a happy white sheep.

“Of course”, the “black” in “black sheep” is just a metaphor for illegal doings, and any associations with skin colors would be purely incidental. [That’s what the party claims.] Just as the severed head is probably to be taken as a metaphor for the spiritual problems caused by a separation between mind and body.