The Basel Fasnacht begins at 4 am on the dot on the Monday after Ash WednesdayAsh Wednesday
The start of the season of Lent.. Then all the city lights are extinguished and thousands of drummers and flute players begin the opening notes to the marching music entitled, not coincidentally, ‘Morgestraich’.
The drummers and flutists belong to big and smaller CliquesCliques
Cliques refer to the bigger groups which include drummers and flutists. and very small groups known by the insiders as ‘SchyssdräggziigliSchyssdräggziigli
This refers to a small group who plays the flutes and/or drums.’. There are some individuals who prefer to drum and play the flute alone as they march through the alleyways of Basel. The different cliques make their own way through the city following their own route. There are no prescribed routes for each clique.
Larger and smaller artistically painted LanternsLantern
Lanterns are painted on canvas which is fixed to a three-dimensional wooden frame. illuminate the city. The lanterns are either mounted on a chariot and then pulled or some strong bearers carry them on their shoulders. The lanterns illustrate the current SubjectSubject
The subject of Fasnacht refers to the themes presented during the official procession.. The ‘VortrabVortrab
Is a costumed individual who clears the way for his clique.’ carry smaller lanterns which are mounted on long poles. You also see tiny lanterns which are mounted on the masks (‘LarveLarve
Larve are masks which are in part made of laminated paper.’). Some lanterns are also carried on the back.
In regards to costumes there are no explicit rules for how to dress on Morgenstreich. All participants tend to wear costumes known as ‘CharivariCharivari
The members of a clique or group wear individual costumes.’. These are traditional costumes, old ‘ZugkostümeZugkostüme
Costumes that refer to the theme presented during the official procession on Monday and Wednesday afternoon.’, or their own creation. Often the participants wear the same costume each year, thus as a result the Morgenstreich procession looks relatively similar even as the years progress.
The historical melody of ‘Morgenstraich’ is an old military call to attention. The existence of this tune can be traced back to the early 1800s. Its roots, however, are thought to be much older. The march consists of two verses that are repeated. Often they are played two times in a row. After this the song is no longer played during the rest of the festival.
No Gugge Music groups
The ‘Gugge MusicGugge Music
Brass and percussion carnival band or music. Originally cacophonous, nowadays more harmonious.’ groups do not play at Morgenstreich. However, this wasn’t always the case. In 1962 a compromise was made between the Cliques and the ‘Gugge Music’ bands. The ‘Gugge Music’ groups should not ‘butt in’ to the Morgenstreich procession. In return the ‘Gugge Music’ bands take to the streets commandeering the alleyways on their own to perform on Tuesday evening.
Morgenstreich tends to last for the most part until daybreak on Monday morning. There is time to rest and recuperate before the official afternoon procession (‘CortegeCortege
The Fasnacht parade on Monday and Wednesday afternoon.’). Many groups continue playing long after daybreak. Some even until the afternoon, however, these groups do not perform in the afternoon procession.
In the squares of the bigger streets (Barfüsserplatz, Marktplatz, Rümmelinsplatz, Falknerstrasse and Freie Strasse) there are many more visitors as opposed to the older parts of the city, such as Leonhardskirche, Martinskirche, Nadelberg and Münsterplatz.