Bernese Fasnacht. A medieval holiday meant to precede the fasting of Lent as well as ridicule the Pope begins with the freeing of a bear (man in a bear suit). The bear is Bern’s namesake, crest, and *prized possession. The freeing of the bear is symbolically linked to the Reformation, where in 1528, after the Peasant’s War, freedom of speech and religious tolerance were returned to the Protestants. The days of don’t ask don’t tell were finally over for those Protestant Bears. What better way to infuriate the Pope than to dress up as furies, drags, cosplays, and vamps throwing confetti, drinking gluhwein and dancing to marching bands that play pop music for three days.
*Soon, I’ll address the Bärengraben; an ironic concept which defies the Bernese notion of Free Bears.