• 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
'Wrong but legal' claims child porn case ex-MP
Edathy preparing to face questions in Berlin Photo: DPA

'Wrong but legal' claims child porn case ex-MP

A former rising star of German politics who resigned after pictures of naked children were allegedly found on his official laptop said Thursday what he did was "wrong, but legal." READ  

This week in history
A Brandt name to relaunch a country
Willy Brandt being sworn into office in 1972 Photo: DPA

A Brandt name to relaunch a country

We know him as Willy Brandt - but that was just a pseudonym the former chancellor took to avoid the Nazis. READ  

10,000 evacuated after WWII bomb find
A similar bomb defused in Potsdam in September 2013. Photo: DPA

10,000 evacuated after WWII bomb find

Local authorities evacuated some 10,000 people from central Potsdam after an unexploded Second World War bomb was found on a building site. READ  

Sunny outlook for business this winter
Photo: DPA

Sunny outlook for business this winter

German business confidence rose in December on the back of falling oil prices and a weak euro, the Ifo economic institute said Thursday, as the prospects for Europe's biggest economy grew sunnier. READ  

Merkel says Russia sanctions 'unavoidable'
Photo: DPA

Merkel says Russia sanctions 'unavoidable'

German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned Thursday that sanctions against Russia remain "unavoidable" until Ukraine regains its sovereignty and independence. READ  

Reus fined €540k for no driving licence
Photo: DPA

Reus fined €540k for no driving licence

Germany and Dortmund football star Marco Reus was hit by a €540,000 fine Thursday, after state prosecutors in Dortmund confirmed he has been driving for years without a licence. READ  

British and German troops relive Xmas truce
Soldiers in World War One period uniforms watch the football match. Photo: DPA

British and German troops relive Xmas truce

Teams from the British and German armies played a friendly football game in Aldershot on Wednesday in memory of the Christmas truce of 1914. READ  

Germany hails Obama's 'courage' over Cuba
Former Cuban President Fidel Castro. Photo: DPA

Germany hails Obama's 'courage' over Cuba

Berlin has welcomed the thaw in US-Cuban relations partly brokered in secret by Pope Francis at the Vatican. READ  

American guilty of killing Hamburg student
Diren Dede's grieving parents outside the court in Missoula Photo: DPA

American guilty of killing Hamburg student

A US court has found a man who shot and killed 17-year old German exchange student Diren Dede guilty of deliberate homicide. READ  

Cabinet agrees road toll for foreigners from 2016
Photo: DPA

Cabinet agrees road toll for foreigners from 2016

After months of bickering among the coalition parties, the cabinet finally agreed to put a road toll for foreigners before parliament, but open questions about its financial viability and legality remain. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
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?
Sponsored Article
Shop Christmas gifts at Debenhams international store
Photo: DPA
Berlin
The Local's series on 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall
Shutterstock
Sponsored Article
Offer: Unlimited airmiles through December 19th
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

3,194
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