As the famous German carnival song says:  “On Ash Wednesday it’s all over again ….” except in Switzerland, where – for example –  the Basel Morgestraich (04.00 o’clock in the morning) takes place on March 11, 2019.

Since several years I am quite skeptical as regards the “institution church” and the always alko-happy carnival parades and celebrations.

But the announcement that on March 3rd a carnival sermon takes place in the “old-catholic” Mannheim Castle Church (part of the university) and is held by a female priest, draw my attention. How to find the right balance between Bible verses and cheers.

In short: seldom I have a felt a performance moment so appropriate and successful as these 1.5 hours in the colorfully decorated church.

The opening ceremony/ entry begins with a tremendous drum roll followed by a trumpet / fanfare corps, then it becomes devoutly silent again and a member of the guard announces personal intercessions. Under the soft sounds of the Guards’ Band, the members of the church move in: three gentlemen, a lady and two ceremonial assistances in white robes with partly colored scarves and headgears. And it does not take long until the feet of the church representatives start seesawing according to the gospel sounds, the rows of benches are waving left and right and there is laughter and applause like in a ballroom.

Then the red-haired young female pastor raises her hands and blesses those present. And immediately she begins her “Sunday sermon” with a joyful voice; criticizes busy-headedness, indifference and double standards. However, she does this exclusively in rhymes which cause ever new smiles.

Finally, she practices self-criticism concerning vanity. In addition, she shows humor and puts on a glittering hat and a flashing red nose, which the religious community spontaneously comments by humming the classic words “ui, jujui, jujuj, jujui, .. ei, jei, jei, yes jei”.,

At the same time the two little assistances start distributing red foam noses to all visitors and the crowd sings “For you it’s raining red roses …”. A short time later, a flower basket makes the round.  Suddenly the waltz “Tulips from Amsterdam” is in the air and as a sign of peace, all bank neighbors shake hands.

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The exuberant and yet touching mood is hard to describe, you have to experience it yourself. Meantime I know that there are also other places that organize such events.

Also, the selection of songs from the hymnbook was just beautiful, at least one of them could serve as a musical hit.   BUT:  Pictures and movies are worth more than thousand words!

The final act was the usual communion, whereby the so-called “old catholic” offer this in an ecumenical sense to all baptized persons, not just Catholics.

And there was another final surprise for us: “… I invite you to weck/ sandwhich  and woi/ wine,

I’m saying AMEN now, you say … AHOI “

…. and when we moved out, the big church organ plays the Narrhalla march “ritsamba, ritsamba, … tomorrow the carnival will start again  …  kisses!

This was a quite different way celebrating carnival, contemplative and yet fun and full of life.

P.S. Afterwards, I had the chance to talk a few words to the lady-priest. Yes, she is sometimes criticized for her too liberal attitude by some church superiors; but she knows to handle this for such special moments because it comes from their heart …


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