Hellau Carneval

While you are all getting ready for Pancake Day, Germany is getting ready for the end of its fifth “season” which is Carneval Time! It starts at 11:11 on the 11th of the 11th (November) and goes on until Ash Wednesday. The pinnacles  of this time are Monday and Tuesday next week when you would see parades with floats (think Rio but more beer or schnapps and less glamour), many groups of men or women dressed up in carneval costumes. The biggest Carneval towns are Cologne and Mainz.

I was in a hotel in Oberhof in 2008 and we were in the bar downstairs getting ready to go out in the snow, when suddenly the place burst into a big frenzy and people pulled out party poppers and mini Jaegermeister bottles out of nowhere. It felt like we were being Punked, but no, it was the start of Carneval.

People throw Carneval, or Fasching, as it is called in my area (nothing to do with faschists), parties and expect you to dress up for example as a cowboy or ladybird or something else ridiculous. Then it is pretty much a normal party with food, drink and dancing. Lots of fun being stopped by the police whilst driving home dressed as a cowgirl. No, I hadn’t been drinking.
Obviously the children love Carneval. If you go to a parade, the people on the floats throw sweets and plastic bead necklaces (can hurt). They also celebrate Carneval in their Kindergarten or school where they can dress up and get fancy snacks like this über cool donut.

For a pretty sober country, Carneval really is a contrast to everyday life here. But love it or hate it, there is no escaping it. So say “Hellau” to Carneval.


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