Last weekend was the start of the Carnival celebrations. I had thought Carnival was something that only happens in Rio, but it turns out to be religious celebration linked to Ash Wednesday (or, more relevantly from Linda's perspective, pancake Tuesday).
We did some research on the Internet and asked around about the various celebrations, in the end deciding to go to Fribourg because we had heard it was a nice town and they had a fun sounding itinerary, culminating in the burning of a giant figure in the town square. So we bought our tickets and caught the train through the fog and snowy landscape up to Fribourg.
Once there we could see Fribourg was a lovely little town and we slowly wandered downthrough the streets towards the lower part of town near the river where the celebrations were centred. We found a square where some bands were lined up to play some energetic music with colourful costumes.
For the rest of the afternoon we wandered back and forth between the celebrations, other parts of the town, and further afield. Gradually the celebrations built up until the town was packed with people and floats where lead along the roads that were quickly being covered in layers of coloured confetti.
The climax came after dark when they held a mock trial of Rababou, a fictional character held responsible for all the crimes of the past year, whom they then set fire to in the form of an effigy of wire and straw.
It took a little while for the fire to catch properly, but once it did it ripped up the figure setting off firecrackers as it went. At the same time a canon was fired more confetti into the crowd.
After the fire died down it suddenly got very cold. We had seen some men setting up fireworks on the hill above the town but the prospect of waiting outside for them to go off did not appeal very much. We sheltered in a bar and had hot drinks to thaw ourselves off.
As always seems to happen to us in Switzerland, the heating and gentle motion of the train on the way home soon had us feeling quite drowsy and, although we were home relatively early, it was all we could do to prop ourselves up on the couch and watch some tv before going to bed.
After the success of this Carnival, we will be heading up to Basel for their Carnival, which is held a week after the others and is meant to be the biggest in Switzerland.