Sunday, February 15, 2015

Rosenmontag word-of-the-day: “Schoduvel”

Americans are fond of ‘celebrating’ the ‘diversity’ of their country.  But actually, compared to Europe, it is pretty much one mass-marketed culture from coast to coast.   Europe -- residually, at any rate -- still has genuine diversity of cultural traditions  of a kind unimaginable in America.
Thus, take Shrovetide (a word most Americans can no longer even define.)
In America, Mardi Gras is basically just a time for people from various regions to go to New Orleans to get drunk.   Culturally, it is quite comparable to the Superbowl;  its religious significance (as Shrove Tuesday) is nil.

In many parts of Christian Europe, Fasching still means something;  it is observed, in different regions, in multiple different ways, with traditions going back to the Middle Ages.  

Rosenmontag -- 1836

Mardi gras (Fastnacht) to be sure, by those who remember that we then faire gras as a last indulgence before the forty-day fast that begins on Ash Wednesday; but likewise, especially in northern Germany, Rosenmontag.

And even, in Braunschweig (Lower Saxony), especially, a festival on the Sunday before that:  the Schoduvel (North German dialect -- literally ‘scare-devil’), going back to folkways intended to frighten-off such imps as  Jack Frost, and eventually blending in with the Karneval.   Little did the revelers realize that they have more to fear than the ills of winter:  much closer to home, they have been nursing a nest of vipers, now for years.

For now this genuine European diversity  is under threat from those who adopt “Diversity” as a banner, using it as a club to bludgeon European dignity and history.  Most recently, today in Braunschweig, the Schoduvel has been canceled owing to threats of violence from the Salafistenszene -- not something the police take lightly, given the events of the day before, next door in Denmark.  A couple of weeks before that, a parade in protest against Islamist violence was forbidden by German police owing to … threats of Islamist violence.  (The links/grün/bisounours coalition  failed to notice the irony.)

Schoduvel -- Doomed by Diversity


Folkloristic footnote:

The variegation of traditional European cultures  is not only country by country, but region by region, in Germany in particular.   We earlier glanced at Ripuarian richness:

For a Plattdeutsch account of Shrovetide festivities:

Aschermittwoch as well is marked regionally with particular traditional pageantry:


[Update 21 November 2015]  Yet another Christian festival, canceled because of an Islamist terrorist threat:

Le traditionnel cortège pour l’arrivée de la Saint-Nicolas à Vilvorde, dans la grande banlieue de la ville, est supprimé.


[Update 24 Feb 2017]  Good news!  Brunswick in Lower Saxony is merrily celebrating the Schoduvel, under the defiantly jaunty slogan (and beneath the focussed gaze of hundreds of policement,
"Helau, wir tun es allen kund :  der Schoduvel bleibt frei und bund.",schoduvel620.html

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[Update 10 mars 2018]  Meanwhile in France:

Bon «clet’che» !


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