Although we have been living in Bonn, Germany for over 7 years, we didn’t see this tradition until we moved to the southern Black Forest. Last night (Sat Feb. 28) we smelled fire and went outside. At first, we thought about calling the fire department because we thought there was a forest fire on the mountain behind our house. But then we saw a parade of torches lining it’s way up the mountain. As the night went on, the fire torches that made their way up the mountain were being hurled through the air into the valley.
We asked our friends that we were having dinner with last night about what was happening. They told us that every year at the end of February this village has the same tradition. It is supposed to be on the Saturday after Ash Wednesday that this parade is to happen. Apparently, the fire is to signify that spring is victorious over winter. (I can totally understand this because winters here are dark, wet and depressing)
A straw witch is burned in the bonfire (as a result of Christianity influence). And the flying logs of fire are to chase off and banish the winter spirits and welcome spring. As they hurl the logs or discs of wood, they chant “Schibi, schibo, die Schiebe die soll goh.” loosely translated… “Schibi, schibo, we will push to make it go.” This is accompanied by a night of partying & hard drinking.
This celebration is very much like the one for New Year’s & Ash Wednesday where the people dress in large masks with eerie lit eyes that are supposed to ward off evil spirits. It seems that the Germans look for any opportunity to get together with their neighbors and have some drinks!