Ever since I started being the serial expat I am today, I have missed many fun holidays in Germany. One that always makes me half-regret my decision to move abroad is KARNEVAL. Today is Weiberfastnacht (Fat Thursday) and, boy, do I wish I was in Cologne with family and friends, out getting drunk, and having silly fun being dressed as a devil/witch/vampire (my regular costumes). I remember the first year I wasn’t home for Karneval… I had just finished high school and moved to Egypt to spend a year there as a dive guide at the Red Sea. Don’t get me wrong, I had a fantastic year, but the weekend of Karneval I was homesick. In fact, I made somebody send me a CD with Karneval songs and blasted them through the diving center for a day or two… Much to the dismay of the unsuspecting German tourists who fled Germany’s craziest season (yes, Germans call this the fifth season) because they don’t like it. But how can you not like Karneval anyways?! I took no pity!
I have great memories from my childhood of Karneval (despite my mom always dressing me as a stupid clown with a fake balloon belly and not as the princess I of course wanted to be): School let out early on Thursday and we didn’t have to go back until Tuesday. On Sunday and Monday we would go to different Karnevalsumzuege (see the video below of what the parades can look like) and get lots of candy and sing silly songs.
In high school my girlfriends and I started celebrating Weiberfastnacht (Fat Thursday). It’s the day where women get to take control: Women storm city hall in many cities, get to cut men’s ties, and kiss every guy they see. How does that not sound like fun? We usually had parties at friends’ homes on Friday and Saturday and went to the parades on Sunday and Monday – these times less for the candy and more for the Kölsch (beer from Cologne). Good times! Of course we would still yell Kamelle and Struessjer (i.e., call for candy and flowers), but mainly we were there to party.
One year, I took Marco with me to Germany for Karneval and he thought it was a crazy mess 🙂 I think he also thought it was fun, but he couldn’t really believe how many thousands of people go completely nuts: pretty much everybody on the streets is in full costume (if you’re not, you stick out like sore thumb), people start drinking in the morning and celebrate in the streets all day, there are Bützje (kisses on the cheek or the mouth that don’t really mean anything), and everybody sings along to German songs that are just played and sung during Karneval. I tried to teach him some and he did a pretty good job of singing along: Ich hab drei Haare auf der Brust, ich bin ein Bär…
Now hit play below and join me as I sing along to one of the most famous Karneval songs, Viva Colonia performed by De Höhner:
… now I have to get back to work and am even more homesick after writing all this 🙁
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