Cologne Carnival, the most important cultural event in Germany

We all know the carnival, and we mostly related it to Brazil. But this event is celebrated almost in every country. Meaning that is also celebrated in Germany. Many cities dress up in colorful and fun costumes. But there is one that is known for being the most “important”. The Cologne carnival, or in German the Kölner Karneval, is it considered the most important cultural event in the country.

Starting on November 11th in the Alter Markt although the real party takes place during the month of February. The week begins with the Weiberfastnacht (Thursday 24th of February). This day the women take on the main role of the festivities after receiving the kays of the city from the mayor’s hands.

The peak of this event is the Rosenmontag, a day which several parades inspired by different motifs make their journey through the streets to the rhythm of the typical carnival songs. This event has its own slogan, which is “Kölle Alaaf”, that means “Cologne belongs to everyone” in the local dialect, the kölsch.

After the introduction to the festival, let’s jump to the history.

Every year the “Festival Committee of the Cologne Festival” is in charge of organizing the event and appointing the three representatives of the “Kölner Dreigestirn”:

  • The virgin.
  • The prince.
  • The peasant.

These in return pay a large sum of money for the privileges obtained with the title. The prince of carnival is the highest representative of the festivities, preceding the most important parades throughout the week.

On Carnival Sunday, different groups such as schools and city neighborhoods participate in the parades made in the city. The best from them will be awarded and will be able to participate in the parade of the Carnival Monday. In addition, many neighborhoods organize their own parades between Shrove Saturday and Tuesday. In fact, those considered local are enjoyed before.

Now you may wonder why in Cologne?

As an ancient Roman city Cologne was home to a population in which the characteristics of many races were united in a successful “Gemölsch” (blend). This city grew to be Germany’s largest trading metropolis in the Middle Ages. Because of this, the city’s residents have the cosmopolitan, open-minded and friendly characteristics.

Also remember that if you are planning on going to this event you do not have to wear fancy clothes. In fact, you have to let your imagination fly and be creative about. Most importantly, that you feel comfortable in it.

Another thing that you will have to remember is the “Bützje”. Do not get scared if a stranger will kiss you in the cheek. This is an excess of good cheer, nothing related to a seduction kiss. You will find that this is essential and common during the carnival. Do not be annoyed by it, on the contrary, be happy because it shows that you are accepted. It is very simple to make friends in this carnival atmosphere.

Juana Sosa
Author: Juana Sosa

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