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Karneval (Fasching)

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Carnival is one of merriest traditions of the Montafon Valley. A crazy time of fancy dress, music, bonfires and mischief, it is a final fun week before 40 days period of Lent sets in. Usually it falls in on February, however to find out its accurate time, one must consult the Calendar for Ash Wednesday which is the middle of the Fasching week. In 2017, the main events of Fasching will be played out in February 25- March 5. The Fasching week starts with the Rose Monday (Rosen Montag) when Fancy dress parties are thrown all over the valley and holiday makers returning from the day’s skiing may encounter carnival parades and lively processions of masked people on the streets of towns and villages. This is part of the ancient pre-Christian tradition of driving away the evil spirits of winter. The farewell –to-winter-events are crowned with the bonfire night (Funkensonntag). The bonifire (Funka) in Montafon is hardly a laughing matter: the preparatory work is so serious that requires a special commission, attraction of fire-fighters and involvement of the local communities. And no kidding, it is a work of craftsmanship: sooner a flaming tower than a bonfire and may be up to 17-20 metres high. It is erected way ahead of the event itself in a specially chosen public place and built round a felled spruce trunk, erected vertically and fastened to the ground. A doll of a witch is placed on top filled with explosives that make a lot of noise and smoke but no harm. When the flames reach the witch and it explodes, everybody is laughing and clapping. Funka is often accompanied by swinging of torches (Schiebenschlagen) which is a skill not acquired overnight. Tourists and local people listen to brass bands playing and partake of local drinks: Punsch, beer and Jagertee. A swarm of „witches” riding on brooms may suddenly appear out of nowhere and start playing pranks on people, so one must be on one’s guard. Funka burns for several hours. Lent starts on the next day so everyone is using an opportunity to have fun tonight.