Groppenfasnacht


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Social practices
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Description

Groppenfasnacht, or Fish Carnival, in Ermatingen is an age-old fishing, spring and pre-Lenten festival tradition. It is the last carnival of the year in Switzerland, held three weeks before Easter. The highlight is the fish procession, which takes place once every three years and sees around 1,200 participants delighting 15,000 spectators. Led by an oversized bullhead fish, the procession includes traditional fishing groups, symbols of spring, fairytale characters, carnival groups and carnival musicians. During the parade, crowds can sample goujons of locally caught fish and a glass or two of white wine. The procession is an integral part of a folk festival that lasts several days and includes the indoor village carnival night, Beizenfasnacht, in the restaurants, and a "Lumpenball" (a costumed ball where the costumes are made from old clothes).

Of the legends in circulation as to the origins of the event, the most likely appears to be a connection to a spring festival held by fishermen in Ermatingen. The village has a long-established fishing tradition comparable to almost nowhere else in Switzerland. Whitefish fishing in particular used to be very important. The nets and the black, flat-bottomed boats were called "Segi" and the fishermen were known as "Segimanne". However, this traditional practice has now disappeared from Ermatingen.

Image gallery

  • The giant bullhead fish (the “Gropp”) at the Fish Carnival procession © Daniel Höhn
  • Characters representing spring at the Fish Carnival procession © Groppenkomitee Ermatingen
  • Crowds enjoying the Fish Carnival procession © Daniel Höhn
  • The first woman on the Gropp Committee © Groppenkomitee Ermatingen
  • Fritz Ribi with the catch of the day © Daniel Höhn
  • The Gropp fish in the 1956 procession © Groppenkomitee Ermatingen
  • The Gropp Committee © Groppenkomitee Ermatingen
  • The large fishing nets and boats of Ermatingen © Groppenkomitee Ermatingen
  • The giant bullhead fish (the “Gropp”) at the Fish Carnival procession © Daniel Höhn
  • Characters representing spring at the Fish Carnival procession © Groppenkomitee Ermatingen
  • Crowds enjoying the Fish Carnival procession © Daniel Höhn
  • The first woman on the Gropp Committee © Groppenkomitee Ermatingen
  • Fritz Ribi with the catch of the day © Daniel Höhn
  • The Gropp fish in the 1956 procession © Groppenkomitee Ermatingen
  • The Gropp Committee © Groppenkomitee Ermatingen
  • The large fishing nets and boats of Ermatingen © Groppenkomitee Ermatingen

References and documentation

Publications
  • Ferdinand Bolt: Die Ermatinger Groppenfasnacht. In: Thurgauer Jahresmappe. Arbon, 1967, p. 16-17

  • Thomas Vaterlaus, Monika Schiess: Der See, das Dorf und sein Fest. Ermatingen und der grosse Groppenumzug. Zürich, 2004

  • Wie entstand die Groppenfasnacht? In: Ermatinger Geschäftsblatt. 9. Ermatingen, 1949

Documentation
  • Groppenfasnacht

    Ausführliche Beschreibung Last modification: 16.07.2012
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