Here in my area we have two of the German carnival capitols: Cologne and Duesseldorf. Carnival festivities take place in the public as well as in many indoor locations. Carnival season starts on November 11th and lasts until Ash Wednesday (the exact date differs each year, because carnival depends on Easter. On that day the Lenten season starts for 40 days ’til Easter)
How are these festivities related? The bible tells us the background.
Easter = resurrection = Jesus Christ rose from his grave
Good Friday = Jesus was nailed on the cross, died and was buried
This festivity is the most important celebration in Christian believes.
Because of Jesus himself lentened for 40 days to strengthen his own belief, there is a 40 day Lenten period.
The word ‘carnival’ has it’s origin in Latin: carne = meat + val = without. It marks the beginning of the 40 day Lenten period.
In medieval times, people started to celebrate before the Lenten period started and to use up nearly all of the food remaining from last year. So, these supplies were used for big festivities (also celebrating the end of the winter). During these days, the established hirachy were turned upside down: the fool became mayor and everyone masqueraded. For one of the days, the Thursday I mentioned in the first paragraph, even became power: they were allowed to reign for 1 day (Altweiber / Weiberfastnacht). All of these isn’t meant serious, but foolish, because everything is turned upside down.
The magic number of carnival is the 11, because you can turn it upside down and it’s still the same.
Over the centuries, carnival starts now on November 11th at 11:11. On that date, the indoor festivities start. These are meetings with a president, a meeting committee and lots of speeches (all funny but usually political). This type of carnival was a foolish reaction to the strict government by the Pruss and Napoleons France. The participants wear costumes inspired by official uniforms of that times soldiers, but with a funny skirt or flouncy sleeves. They also play special music. Often played by marching bands looking like they were kidnapped from the 17th century. Simple melodies and very foolish lyrics (easy to remember, even when drunk).
Starting from Altweiber, the carnival festivities encroach to the streets. Carnival music floods the streets and the radio stations. Carnival meetings are broadcasted by some TV stations. While you won’t remark all of this during winter, is nearly impossible to ignore it during the last week before Rosenmontag (Carnival Monday).
Not everyone likes this!
One of my friends works in the middle of Cologne. Even during the days marking the summit of the carnival festivities (Thursday to Tuesday), when the silly music with their haunting melodies creating earworms to eat up the remains of your mind. Most of the businesses in areas with such a long tradition of celebrating carnival that intense, are closed for these days, because no customer would come, the employees won’t be usable (too tired and drunk) and drunk people probably would trash the unsecured rooms.
His company does not close, because they have also to support customers in areas, where carnival isn’t a topic at all. So, he goes on vacation. Some other friends of us, also working in similar areas, where they don’t have to work. My company office at that time was located in Duesseldorf, but a bit out of the center. So, I left the office always early to avoid encountering with drunk people.
Because all of this, he got the idea, to use these days for a short trip and our annual carnival escape was born.
Over the years we usually visited a famous city in the south, but also Berlin and London. Not everyone was able to take part in every trip. So you won’t find all of them here.
This time was different. Despite we were traveling south, we didn’t the reach the warmer mediterranean countries. Instead, we stopped in the Bavarian Alps for a hot-air balloon flight.