Karneval - Germany's Fifth Season
Karneval in Cologne-Rodenkirchen, © Gaidaphotos, copyright free
“Karneval” (Carnival) is living proof that Germany is not only strict and orderly, but that we can also celebrate excessively and enjoy ourselves. The word “Karneval” is actually imprecise, as there are many traditions that are all of a slightly different nature.
The biggest celebrations take place in Cologne, the unofficial capital of “Karneval”. Traditionally, carnival celebrations begin on Thursday 52 days before Easter with the “Weibersfastnacht” (Women's March), where women symbolically take control for a day and cut off the men's ties. On the following Monday, known as Rose Monday, parades start at 11:11am through the city. More than 1 Million people come together regularly and celebrate this highlight of the so called “fifth season” - Carnival. The parades consist of traditionally dressed members of carnival clubs, floats that usually make satirical references to the present day and a host of “Narren” who celebrate in colorful costumes until the early hours. While carnival in Rio de Janeiro and elsewhere reaches its climax on Tuesday, this day is celebrated more quietly in Germany. During the night from “Shrove Tuesday” to “Ash Wednesday”, the “Nubbel”, a life-size figure made of straw, is burned to symbolically forgive all the many small (and at times bigger) sins of the carnival. With Ash Wednesday the time of abstinence until Easter, the fasting, begins and the most beloved holiday in vast parts of western and south-western Germany comes to an end.
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