Women storm town halls Thursday

by Petra Lessoing
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
File photoWomen tie the men working in the town hall to a fountain and charge them a fee to be released during “Altweiberfasching,” or old women’s Fasching.
File photo
Women tie the men working in the town hall to a fountain and charge them a fee to be released during “Altweiberfasching,” or old women’s Fasching.

At 11:11 a.m. Thursday, women from the Ramstein-Miesenbach community will storm the local town hall in celebration of “Altweiberfasching,” or old women’s Fasching, which is one of the craziest days during Fasching season.

Altweiberfasching is always observed the Thursday before Rose Monday. Traditionally, women dress as old hags or witches and meet in the morning to walk down the street, sing songs and storm the town halls in some communities. These women constantly look for victims — men wearing ties. As soon as they see a man with a tie — on the street, in a store, in an office — they get out a pair of scissors and “attack” the man, cutting off his tie. Men should beware of women with scissors on this day.

Depending on the area in which the tie cutting is performed, the woman might ask the man to either buy her a drink or lose the tie, or she cuts the tie and kisses the man. Women are allowed to act crazy that day and have fun without their “better halves.”

The tradition of women participating in Fasching dates back to the 15th century. During sermons, priests complained about the exchange of clothing between women and men. In 1558, the city council of Überlingen at Lake Constance was forced to prohibit women’s Fasching celebrations in female taverns and dormitories because of women’s indecent behavior. But the women referred to their female rights, such as drinking and dancing during specific Fasching days.

Altweiberfasching also marks the status of women in the 15th and 16th century. Wives had well-defined rights since they were the budget keepers. During the crazy season, they sat in judgment of other women who didn’t clean the house or didn’t take care of the children.

Later, in several towns in Southern Germany, it became customary to sit in judgment of men. Women usually met in the conference rooms of town halls. That’s why nowadays women still “storm” the town halls on Altweiberfasching to take control and become fully liberated as on no other day.

During the storming of the Ramstein-Miesenbach town hall, women in disguise will capture men in their offices, take them outdoors and tie them to the “Narrenbrunnen,” or fool’s fountain. Then, the “Altweiber” will cut the men’s ties. Captives will be set free only after paying a fine of €1.11.

Traditionally, the ties are hung up as trophies. Men should also watch out because it’s not always women in disguise who attack and cut the ties.

Attacks can also come from normally dressed women in the workplace. Some men don’t like to participate in the event, so they won’t wear a tie that day or they will choose to wear one they don’t like.

In some communities, the day will close out with Fasching parties and dances.

A big Altweiberfasching party will start at 8:11 p.m. Thursday in Ramstein-Miesenbach’s Haus des Bürgers. The band Habachtaler will perform, and during the band’s breaks, disc jockey Andi will provide musical entertainment. Advance tickets are available at the ticket office in the Haus des Bürgers for €8; tickets at the door cost €10.

One of the most famous Altweiberfasching parties in the KMC will take place in the village of Niederkirchen. Doors open at 7 p.m. Thursday in the local community hall, called Westpfalzhalle. The Muppets will make an appearance and a DJ will provide the dance music. Tickets at the door cost €12.

The Kaiserslautern carnival club KVK will start its traditional Altweiberfasching event at 7 p.m. in its club house, Kalause 11, Kaiserslautern.

Another Altweiberfasching dance party will start at 8 p.m. Thursday in Erfenbach’s Kreuzsteinhalle. The band Favorits will perform. Tickets cost €9. Men will be admitted free until 10 p.m.