Eight couples in party mood and the hurling of discs
In Alto Adige, as in many parts of the world, a period of clowning, partying and playing tricks culminates on Shrove Tuesday. While people everywhere enjoy the craziness of Carnival, the particular traditions and costumes can be very different even at regional level. In Alto Adige, every community in every valley celebrates in its own way and usually has its own special customs for those days when anything goes.
The procession of the “Proder Maschger”
Who or what are the “Proder Maschger”? To find out about this tradition, the best thing is to be there: at Prato allo Stelvio, on the Sunday or Tuesday of Carnival. The “Proder Maschger” consists of a group of eight couples, plus the so-called “bajaz”. Each “Proder Maschger” couple has a name, such as “Farmer and Farmer’s wife” or “Lord and Lady,” or “Mr. Carrot and Mrs. Little Carrot”, while the other couples are named after places, valleys and mountain ranges in Alto Adige and Austria. The “Proder Maschger” are accompanied by musicians, and stroll from one tavern to the next, dancing, drinking and joking with customers. In addition to their colourful costumes, the main attraction is the amusing behaviour of these characters.
The tradition of “Scheibenschlagen”
In the days between Carnival and Lent, there are many customs and traditions practiced that relate to fire. In this Alpine area, the first Sunday of Lent is celebrated as “Bonfire Sunday”, and in various places they practice “Scheibenschlagen”, the throwing of red-hot wooden discs. This tradition is also firmly rooted in Val Venosta, and forms part of the customs and rituals related to the bonfire. As with the solstice bonfire, the tradition involves building large wooden towers, which in Val Venosta are known as “Kasfängga” or even “Hex” (witch). After sunset, the towers are set on fire to the sound of cries from the participants, intended to chase away the winter demons and ensure fertility. Then the moment arrives for the wooden discs, which are kept in the fire on hazel branches until they’re very hot. The discs on the branches are then shaken around while reciting an old saying, and are finally flung out into the darkness of the night. The further a disc flies, the more luck will accrue to the thrower, and also to the person to whom the saying was dedicated.
Celebrate Carnival in Alto Adige
Whether you want to mingle with the crowd in your own costume, or watch the Carnival parades from a safe distance; or if you just want to enjoy the winter scenery of Alto Adige in February and the choice of sports, the 4 * Superior Hotel Leitlhof will welcome you at any time of year!
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