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The history of the Carnival in Basel

Why does Basel celebrate Fasnacht? All you need to know about the history and background to the "three best days".

The Carnival in Basel is Switzerland's largest "carnival" and the main Protestant one in the world. However, its history is lost in the mists of time as all the relevant documents were lost in the devastating earthquake of 1356. The oldest document about the Carnival in Basel dates back to 1376.

Zünfte

Guilds

Basel's guilds had a considerable influence on the development of Carnival, the "three best days". Conscription of guild members required to do military duty in the 16th century was closely connected to Carnival. Military elements were incorporated which still characterize Carnival in Basel to this day: the measured marching pace to the sound of drums and piccolos.

Alte-Blaggedde-1913

Blaggedde (Fasnacht badge)

The Fasnacht badge – called a "Blaggedde" was introduced in 1911. The Fasnacht Committee (Comité), established in 1910, was permitted to sell them in order to finance part of the Fasnacht costs. The income still serves to subsidize the cliques.

1. Morgenstreich

1. Morgenstreich

The first officially permitted Morgenstreich was held in 1835. Back then, the Fasnacht participants took to the alleys with burning torches. The first pole-mounted lanterns appeared in 1845 when a ban on carrying open-flame torches was issued. The first large procession lantern was documented in 1860.

UNESCO

UNESCO World Heritage

On 22 October 2014 the Federal Council decided to include the Basel Fasnacht in the list of Swiss candidacies for nomination as intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO. These will be submitted in stages to the UNESCO Committee for Intangible Cultural Heritage. The inclusion of Basel Fasnacht on this list is a great achievement and motivates Fasnacht participants to continue upholding the tradition with unwavering dedication.