• Germany's news in English
 
Karneval – the schedule
Photo: DPA

Karneval – the schedule

Published: 07 Feb 2013 06:49 GMT+01:00

11:11 am on November 11

While the rest of Europe remembers those fallen in World War I on Armistice Day, a small group of over-zealous Germans annually choose this moment to pretend that the confluence of number ones gives them a reason to host a Karneval “opening.” Various modest events take place on the streets of Germany’s cities, including the presentation of the Karneval Prince and Princess, after which everyone goes home sheepishly. Then, nothing at all happens until…

January 6 – Dreikönigstag – Epiphany

An ancient feast day with its Orthodox origins was once chosen as the real start of Karneval in the German-speaking world. But again, not much happens, except to give Germany’s chartered accountants an official license to dress up as pirates and shout things like “Ho Narro!” behind you while you’re trying to drink a milkshake. As this day is fixed on the calendar, and Ash Wednesday, the conclusion of Karneval, is dependent on Easter, Karneval-time gets compressed some years. Last year’s Karneval was the shortest since 1913 – which was probably terribly upsetting for some pirate accountants.

Schmotziger Donnerstag – Fat Thursday

The Thursday before Ash Wednesday is the day that the first parades and street festivals appear. It is also known as Weiberfastnacht, which could be translated as Wenches’ Carnival. According to an ancient protocol, reborn with the modern Karneval-era in 1823, this is traditionally the day when “women and girls” rip off each other’s clothes in the street, and rub themselves a salty, artery-clogging fat called Schmalz – hence Schmotzig. Ok, ok that part about girls greasing down each other is not actually true, but we wish it was. Instead, women celebrate Weiberfastnacht by running around the Rhineland and snipping off the ties of men dumb enough to wear one this day. Supposedly they’re compensated for losing this symbol of their manhood with a kiss. It has also become tradition for groups of women to storm local town halls in the Rhineland to show who’s wearing the trousers.

Rosenmontag

The traditional Saturnalian highpoint of Karneval, named not after roses, but rasen, the German term for what the British call “going on a bender.” The centres of the Rhine cities get very crowded, and very sexually charged, usually by mid-morning. The drug of choice is Feigling, the fig-based liquor that is only drunk in a mood of desperate celebration, and the costumes are often quite suggestive. Put it this way – a lot people don’t come out for the parades with the satirical floats.

Fastnachtsdienstag – Shrove Tuesday – Mardi Gras

This is essentially an extension of Rosenmontag, but the atmosphere is slightly tempered by the impending end of the fifth season on Ash Wednesday. It is also known as Veilchendienstag, or Violet Tuesday – a continuation of the misleading flower theme which one innocent fool once used to name the whole Karneval weekend: Nelkensamstag (Carnation Saturday), Tulpensonntag, (Tulip Sunday) and Rosenmontag. However, flowers play very little part in proceedings.

Ben Knight (ben.knight@thelocal.de)

Today's headlines
Germany warns Greece over reforms as left rises
Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble has said he expects Greece to honour its debts. Photo: DPA

Germany warns Greece over reforms as left rises

Germany's finance minister has warned Greece that any new government must respect commitments made by its predecessor, as the country moved closer to early elections that EU officials fear would be won by a radical leftist party. READ  

LG offices raided over suspected vandalism
A Sumsung washing machine. Photo: DPA

LG offices raided over suspected vandalism

South Korean prosecutors raided the Seoul headquarters of LG Electronics on Friday following allegations that the firm's executives vandalised their rival Samsung's washing machines at a trade fair in Germany, company officials said. READ  

Neuer cautious over Ballon d'Or prospects
Photo: DPA

Neuer cautious over Ballon d'Or prospects

Germany's World Cup winning goalkeeper Manuel Neuer on Friday played down his prospects of securing the World Player of the Year award over holder Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. READ  

News Feature
No Boxing Day football tradition for Germans
Germans football fans will have nothing to watch this Boxing Day Photo: DPA

No Boxing Day football tradition for Germans

Defying national stereotypes, it is British footballers who will be braving the freezing cold to take to the pitch on Boxing Day, whilst Germany's players are already sunning themselves on their winter break until the end of January. READ  

Germans hit back at anti-immigrant movement
Demonstrators protest against PEGIDA. Photo: DPA

Germans hit back at anti-immigrant movement

Business leaders, the political class and average Germans are pushing back against a growing anti-immigrant movement, saying it threatens the values and image the country fought hard to establish since the war. READ  

German president urges refugee compassion
Photo: DPA

German president urges refugee compassion

Germany's president appealed in a Christmas message for compassion and openness towards refugees coming to the country, which is grappling with a growing anti-Islam movement. READ  

Reward offered for €150k homing pigeon
A female homing pigeon. Photo: DPA

Reward offered for €150k homing pigeon

A breeder in Düsseldorf has offered a €10,000 reward after thieves stole a homing pigeon worth €150,000 from his aviary. READ  

Royal palace restored to glory after €4.5m refit
The vestibule of the Schloss Charlottenburg, which reopens on Boxing Day Photo: DPA

Royal palace restored to glory after €4.5m refit

The royal palace of Fredrick the Great in Berlin is to fully reopen to visitors on Boxing Day after a 4.5 million euro refit. READ  

Bertolt Brecht statue hit with potato salad
Bertolt Brecht and his salad. Photo: DPA

Bertolt Brecht statue hit with potato salad

Bertolt Brecht's statue in front of the Berliner Ensemble theatre was splattered with potato salad by pranksters early on Tuesday morning, in a protest against supposed gentrification of the capital by wealthy southerners. READ  

'Cursed' Christmas Market catches fire
The ferris wheel at Alexa Christmas Market where a man fell to his death last week Photo: DPA

'Cursed' Christmas Market catches fire

A blaze at one of Berlin's biggest Christmas markets has caused locals to wonder if the place is cursed. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Gallery
Top 12 German idioms
Willy Brandt at his inauguration in 1972. Photo: DPA
National
Willy Brandt: the man, the chancellor... the airport?
Dresden skyline and river by night. Photo: DPA
Politics
What does Dresden have against Muslims?
Sponsored Article
Why are these International Baccalaureate students cheering?
Germany's national football team lifts the World Cup trophy
Gallery
Germany's most-Googled words of 2014
National
Why has The Local got a new logo?
Photo: DPA
National
This German was abducted and tortured by the CIA
Culture
10 top tips for partying in Germany
Sponsored Article
Top ten gifts for an expat Christmas
Photo: DPA
Technology
What does the Chancellor see as the future of the internet?
Photo: DPA
Culture
Stuff your face with these festive German cookies
Photo: DPA
Culture
What do beer, breakfast cereal and dildos have in common?
Culture
The Local's guide to German Christmas markets
Sponsored Article
Top five quirky Christmas jumpers
Photo: DPA
Culture
Get ready for Christmas like a German. We tell you how.
Photo: DPA
Munich
She did what with her dead mother?
Photo: DPA
National
Germany still paying for crisis fall out
Photo: DPA
Culture
Saxon wurst is the worst, Christmas market declares.
Photo: DPA
Politics
Can 'sorry' ever be enough for the Linke?
Photo: DPA
Berlin
The Local's series on 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall
Photo: DPA
Gallery
See how Berlin has changed in 22 photos
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

3,101
jobs available
The Local Spain is hiring!
The Local is seeking a new editor for our site in Spain to join our growing team of internationally-minded, driven, ambitious and clued-up journalists.
Details and how to apply
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd