March is traditionally carnival time in Luxembourg and that means an excuse to dress up, burn things and eat gorgeous food. Intrigued?
Fuesend – Luxembourg Carnival (February & March)
In Luxembourg when people refer to carnival, it is not a single event but a whole period of time during which the country is awash with masked balls (Fuesbaler) and processions through the streets. Revellers dress in costume for these occasions creating massive street parties. Some of the larger processions, known as Kavalkaden attract up to 25,000 people who join in the carnival fun. Costumes are for sale in local supermarkets and often Luxembourgers make great preparation for these events with elaborate well-thought-out costumes. The big one is on February 26 in Diekirch, but check out City Savvy’s top 5 carnivals for others!
Stréifächen (1 March)
At the end of Carnival period in the town of Remich, Ash Wednesday is officially marked by the burning of the Stréimännchen or “straw man”. An effigy of a man is made with straw, which is then carried aloft through the streets in a torch-bearing parade down to the Moselle River. Once at the river, the Stréimännchen is ceremonially set on fire and thrown into the river. This tradition varies slightly when it is a leap year – then the blazing victim should be a woman (Stréifächen)! More details available here (German / French).
Buergbrennen (5 March)
Translated as “burn the fort”, Buergbrennen takes place in Luxembourg on the first Sunday after Carnival. Enough to raise a thrill in adults and children alike, this event has all the appeal of a pagan ritual with burning torches, processions and crowds. Large structures are built in the shape of huge crosses, constructed from wood (often crates and dried out Christmas trees) donated by local residents and businesses of the commune. The wooden cross, usually large enough to be seen for quite a distance, is then filled with straw to ensure an easy burn. In the dark of the evening the Buerg is lit from the torch bearing public and a cheer goes up. Crowds of people come and watch, warming themselves with a hot Glühwein and Grillwurst. It’s a social occasion bringing many people locals and visitors alike to celebrate the beginning of spring and the end of winter.
There are many events taking place to celebrate Buergbrennen, so check with your commune whether one is happening locally.
Bretzelsonndeg – Pretzel Sunday (Sunday 26 March)
During Lent, you’ll see that the bakeries are overflowing with pretzels. Always popular, these tasty treats are in particular demand on Bretzelsonndeg, the fourth Sunday in Lent. It is on this day that men across Luxembourg traditionally give their sweethearts a pretzel as a show of affection; the more ornate and beautiful the better. If the women like that man, they in return give their special man a painted egg or chocolate on Easter Sunday (Sunday 16 April) and can go on a lover’s walk with them. It’s a long time to wait, but worth it! Remember, boys, the better the pretzel, the better the egg you’ll get back in return! Note that on a leap year the tradition is reversed and the men receive pretzels and ladies the eggs!
Photo: Andreas/flickr (file) has been cropped