Many people think of country music when they hear about West Virginia. However, there is a lot more to this US state including a Mardi Gras Festival.
The Mardi Gras everyone knows well is celebrated in the period before Ash Wednesday in New Orleans. Louisiana. The people living in Helvetia, West Virginia celebrate Fasnacht. In the 10th century, immigrants from Switzerland brought this celebration to the city.
Fasnacht combines the celebrations of Mardi Gras and the Winterfest of Switzerland. At this time Old Man Winter gets burned in effigy so that spring comes along faster. An effigy is the model of a person or thing that is generally disliked and then burned upon a bonfire during the festivities.
People get together on the Saturday night before Ash Wednesday and put on scary masks, They decorate their homes with frightening figures to scare away Old Man Winter. Gatherings take place at a local restaurant where colorful lanterns are lit and people walk to the community hall. There they parade around the dance floor and their masks are judged.
Dancing goes on till midnight and then everyone is ready to burn Old Man Winter. The prettiest girl is chosen to sit on the shoulders of the tallest man and she cuts down the effigy of Old Man Winter usually hanging in the middle of the room, The effigy is taken out in the snow and thrown on the bonfire.