Fasnacht in Zug for the Clueless

You know what it feels like to be an expat? Nope. Not like you're on vacation. Though, that would be spectacular.  Mostly, you feel like the village idiot.  This week's episode of "Expat Mishaps" brought to you by 'Clueless in Zug'- me (By the way, it's not pronounced Zug rhyming with Ugg. It's Zoog. Heavy on the zoo). Forgot what it means, something about fishing. But if you are going to be the village idiot, Fasnacht is your time. You blend. Well, you almost blend. If I had a pin-on-pig, I would have blended.  Maybe.

Fasnacht is either the chasing away of winter or the last hurrah before Lent, just depends on what you've read.  Maybe it's both. Celebrations last about a week.  The towns decorate. Everyone has a parade or two.  Luzern might have four. I don't know...they have a lot. Parades for children. Parades for adults. Kids have a holiday from school. The first day of Fasnacht begins very early in the morning, 5 a.m. or so, with a loud boom. Not sure what else takes place, I've never gotten up that early. When we first got here, the first holiday to arrive was Halloween. Couldn't find costumes. Swiss aren't especially interested. And this is why. Fasnacht.  Hate to say it but I think it's better than Halloween.  Costumes are better, last longer, very family oriented- at least in the small towns.

I went to a couple of parades this past week. Had a ball. Really enjoyed experiencing something so Swiss.  I had confetti dumped all over me and I do mean all over me. I left a trail of confetti in the bathroom.  I'm guessing that was courtesy of the float with an excavator on it. It scooped up confetti and dumped it on your head.  I was happy.

And then I read an article this morning about Fasnacht parade etiquette. I'm thinking it's a parade. How hard could this be?
  • Don't scoop confetti off the ground and throw it back. It's bad form.  And they will know...how will they know? Because on the ground it's a mish mash of colors; pink, yellow, green. 
  • Only throw fresh confetti. Fresh confetti is single colored. 
  • Wear a badge. (A badge? Why a badge? For what?)
  • Don't dress up.
  • Do dress up.
  • Do take pictures. 
  • Don't take pictures with a flash. 
  • These kids got the dress up memo
And, as it turns out, I was doing it WRONG. I watched a parade the WRONG way. A parade faux pas. I threw confetti with abandon. I let Caroline scoop it off the ground. I do confess to wondering what the pin-on-pigs were. Parade badges. I didn't dress up. I should have dressed up.

Now, I know. And I will comply next year. Because the Swiss throw a most excellent parade. Floats throw all kinds of things; oranges, candy, the aforementioned confetti, mulch (seemed odd), and Jagermeister. 

Yes, I did in fact ,receive a bottle of Jagermeister. 

And a small child came up to me and gave me a clear liquid drink in a shot glass.  I have no idea what it was but seemed rude not to at least drink some.  So, I did. Seeing as I did not shrink or grow taller, like Alice in Wonderland, it was fine. There were floats with fire and floats with people bathing.  Scary people poking children with pine trees.  Them, we liked.

One very intense, small girl came up very close to Caroline, looked her in the eye, gave her a long lecture about what we don't know and transferred, very carefully, about a kilo of confetti to her. Then she scampered away. 

Next year, I might be ready for the Luzern Fasnacht parade. Maybe.

In case you're Swiss and going to the US and happen to stumble on a parade, here's what you have to do...nothing. Just enjoy it. Unless you're in New Orleans for Mardi Gras. Then you might be in for a surprise. 


  1. Ha ha...very true!

    New to this space and just wanted to say a quick "hello!". Look forward to checking out older posts and reading about your new adventures too :)


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