In Germany one of the most joyous and crazy celebrations is Carnival. The Carnivals in Germany are known as “The Fifth Season”. They are called like this since they take place when the winter is coming to an end. People are completely unleashed: dances, jokes, costumes and lots of fun.
The fifth season
Each place where the carnival is celebrated has a different name. In Cologne and Dusseldorf this festivity is called “Karneval”, in Mainz it is “Fasenacht”, in some other Bavarian regions it is “Fasnet” or “Fosnat” and in Munich it is “Fasching”.
I would like to make clear a fact that surprised me. The celebrations of all the carnivals in Germany begin some months before. In November! As a matter of fact, the real party takes place during the month of February. It ends with the ash Wednesday after a whole week of festivities.
Carnival in Colone
As for the Cologne carnival I must say that it is one of the most recognized in the country. In spite of the intense cold, people drink quietly in the streets the “kölsch” beer during this festivity of 5 days. Carnival takes over the entire city.
We had the opportunity to talk with several attendees at some of the different carnivals.
Solkes: Where are you from?
Will Kreklow Rojas, carnaval of Aquisgran: From Colombia.
Solkes: What did you think about the carnival the first time you attended?
Will Kreklow Rojas, carnaval of Aquisgran: It was a cultural shock. Comparing it with the Cali Fair (Feria de Cali) it was like a children’s party! A Matine, a small puppet game.
Solkes: And, over time, did this change?
Will Kreklow Rojas, carnaval of Aquisgran: After a while I understood the meaning of the carnival, the good thing and I got impregnated by the German carnival.
Solkes: Please tell me something about the carnival that many people do not know.
Will Kreklow Rojas, carnaval of Aquisgran: The carnival is more than what the tourist see! There are clubs and organizations that are behind the scenes. They spent almost the whole year preparing for it! Karnevalsvereine! My 4 year old niece is in a group of dancers and they practice almost the whole year (Tanzmarierchen).
Solkes: ¿Have you seen changes?
Will Kreklow Rojas, carnaval of Aquisgran: Yes. People mistakenly think that the Carnival is only in Cologne and that is why German and international tourists only go there and it is becoming very unpleasant and dangerous because of the amount of people.
Continuing with the Cologne carnival I must say that it begins with the Weiberfastnacht. That is the moment when women take the major role in this celebration and the receive the keys to the city. The most important day is Rosenmontag. On that day, docens of floats inspired on differnte subjects travel through town. The theme is “Kölle Alaaf”, meaning “Colone is all of us”, this is dialect.
Solkes: Do you have a preferred day?
Will Kreklow Rojas, carnaval of Aquisgran: The day I liked the most was el Weiberfastnacht. Women go crazy and kiss almost all the men. If you have a tie and they like you, they cut it off.
Solkes: So, ¿total insanity?
Will Kreklow Rojas, carnaval of Aquisgran: Yes… months later there is always a baby boom. If you are born 9 months after your friends will bother you and they will call you a “carnival child”. So the odds that you where conceived by drunken parents or during a one night stand is big.
Other carnivals in Germany
The Düsseldorf Carnival is the second most popular in Germany. It starts on February 6 and is offered with alt beer.
The carnival starts on Thursday in the old town. On Sunday of Carnival the Königsallee is the main meeting point and anticipation of what will be the Monday of Carnival or Rosenmontag.
During the Rosenmontag the parade of floats, music and costumes takes place in a large part of the city.
The Carnival in Mainz is amazing. On the banks of the River Rhine the whole city prepares itself by working on floats, giants, big-headed dolls or “Schwellköpp”, jugglers and buffoons that will take to the streets.
Carnival Monday is when buffoons and minstrels invade the streets. There is also a parade of floats of political allegory, big heads and giants, music bands, flag bearers and the honor guard that are making their way among the visitors. And on Saturday, the children’s parade of masks takes place.
Carnival in Munich
In Munich there is an old folk group of the Schäffler dancers that only appears every 7 years and is the main attraction. Numerous parties are celebrated in this period, especially in costumes. In addition there is much joy, music and color.
Solkes: Where are you from?
Sandra Patricia Rivera, Munich carnival: I am from Cali, Colombia.
Solkes: What do you think about the carnival?
Sandra Patricia Rivera, Munich carnival: That in spite of so much cold they look very happy, they go out to enjoy this party as if nothing.
Solkes: What do you like the most?
Sandra Patricia Rivera, Munich carnival: What I like most is to see the joy of the people.
One of the most well-known costume events is the Ball der damischen Ritter (party of the mad knights) which takes place in the Löwenbräukellery where everyone must be dressed in clothing or armor from the Middle Ages
Other highlights include the carnival parade that starts at the Sonnestrasse and ends at the Hofbräuhaus, the dance, music and costume party held at the Marienplatz on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. The women’s dance happens at the Viktualienmarkt, which takes place on Shrove Tuesday at eleven o’clock in the morning.
Reaching the end
Music is key, as it should in sucha a celebration. As a matter of fact, they have a specific name: Karnevlslieder. There are many important bands who have been a part of this tradition, some of them are: Die Toten Hosen, Höhner, Brings o Mo-Torres & Cat Ballou & Lukas Podolski, amongst others.
Carnival is a very old tradition that takes place around the world. As a matter of fact, people in Germany go out to the streets to scare the cold away.
So, It’s a party for the people. A long time ago, masks served as camouflage so that they could distinguish if the person was rich or not.
In summary, carnivals are a fun time to get to know the city. That yes, I consider that it is not the best moment for the cultural tourism. I think this because the streets are literally crammed by an army of people willing to link day and night in a continuous spree.