Alsace has always been a dear region to Sextant. Not only it boasts beautiful landscapes and scenery, it is also home to lively folklore, a rich cuisine and vivid wines – what we appreciate above all is its joie de vivre.
Actually, after Christmas, the other event that is really celebrated in Alsace is carnival. And the one place that stood out really was Mulhouse. It could be because it used to belong to Switzerland, another country well renowned for its carnivals. But Mulhouse is truly Alsatian these days with long lasting celebrations as you would expect.
The origins of Carnival
The word carnival finds its root in latin, it comes from “Carne Levare” which means “remove flesh”. Indeed, Mardi Gras or “Shrove Tuesday” in English coincides with the end of festivities ahead of the lean diet that would prepare Christians ahead of Lent. It is therefore a religious feast but it has roots into pagan traditions too. Indeed, Spring is around the corner and this was cause to celebrate in the ancient times. This week used to be called the “carnal days” – New Orleans probably has retained that aspect too.
What is so peculiar to Mulhouse then when it comes to carnival? There are many places around France worth checking too during these days. Well, it is different here, as the celebrations linger over to the week-end after Mardi Gras. Families gather on “Place de la Réunion, the central square in Mulhouse; same spot as the famous Christmas market – we had it covered last December with our Tour de France article. There will be parades each day, balls in the evening too. They even celebrate participants as there will be a King and a Queen of the Carnival. We will probably relay this further on our Twitter feed: @SextantFrance – if you took part to a traditional carnival in France, please let us know with a tweet or by commenting below.