Fasching in Villach: everything is Lei-Lei!
Holiday: Fasching (Mardi Gras, Shrove Tuesday, Fat Tuesday).
When? In February or March. In 2020 Fasching Saturday is celebrated on February 22nd, Fasching Tuesday on February 25th.
The meaning. This is a cheerful, flashing, perky carnival in late winter. It symbolizes the Marcharrival of spring. The exact origin of this holiday is unknown. In earlier times people tried to expel the winter with ugly masks, screaming and loud noise. But it could also come from the Roman Saturnalia festival. In the Christian religion it means the eve of the last day of eating fatty foods before the ritual fasting of the Lenten season before Easter. It’s easy to realise even from the other names of the holiday such as “Fastnacht” or “Fat Tuesday”. Each land has its own tradition of celebration; as a rule they include wearing masks and costumes, dancing, sports competitions and parades.
How it's celebrated. The Villach carnival is very famous all over Austria. There is a tradition to choose a Prince and Princess of the carnival every year. On Saturday March 2nd the carnival procession will go around the city center (Hauptplatz) with music, songs and dance. A lot of people will come to see this amazing show. It’s great fun for children and not only because of the costumes. The participants of festive procession throw sweets! Foreigners need to know that the particular greeting on this day and the symbol of Villach’s Fasching is “Lei-Lei”. Special carnival delicacies are herring salad and doughnuts with cream.
Family traditions. For many families in Carinthia Fasching is one of the favorite holidays. People begin to prepare a few months in advance: they invent, make their own designs and sew carnival costumes for the entire family. The more original and chic your costume is, the better. During the carnival you can meet families of aliens, kings, monsters, cartoon and fairy-tale characters and, of course, animals.
“I have been looking forward to this day for the whole year”, 26-year-old Stefan from Villach says. “I’ve finished my carnival costume already in January and I am really proud of it. My girlfriend and I will be cool Minions! Come and see! Fasching for me is not only a bright perfomance but also a great opportunity to be a star in this show! Alles ist lei-lei!” (Text und photos: Vita Vitrenko)