• Germany edition
 
Karneval – the societies
Photo: DPA

Karneval – the societies

Published: 07 Feb 2013 06:17 GMT+01:00
Updated: 07 Feb 2013 06:17 GMT+01:00

The organisations that provide the foot soldiers for the controlled chaos that is Karneval are the so-called “societies.” There are nearly 5,000 of them throughout Germany and their members are known as Karnevalsjecken (Karneval jesters) that take part in the festival’s multitude of parades. The societies are also responsible for the notorious Karnevalssitzungen – noisy, non-stop variety show-parties, where the audience is costumed and usually just drunk enough to keep clapping along to oompah music or laugh as often corny one-liners. Their defining purpose is to protect Karneval traditions, which is important as it gives them a different tax status.

Here are some of the main Karneval societies:

Festkomitee des Kölner Karnevals von 1823

This is not so much a single society but rather a protective and authoritarian umbrella for over a hundred Cologne-based Karneval clubs. It has taken charge of the Cologne Karneval since the modern era began in 1823. The Committee organises the Rosenmontag parade, appoints the triumvirate of presiding fools, known as the Dreigestirn (the prince, peasant, and virgin) and occasionally makes judgements of taste, sometimes by painting a bikini on a giant Angela Merkel.

Mainzer Carneval-Verein 1838

That English-looking “C” in the middle there is deliberate, stemming from archaic German spelling from a more innocent, pre-Duden time. This club is the oldest of the Mainz clubs, and the town of Mainz is the smallest of the three recognised Karneval “strongholds” (Cologne and Düsseldorf are the others). Mainz can therefore boast a higher Karneval-spirit-per-capita ratio than any other town. This club takes particular pride in its democratic structure, with members electing its zany board of directors.

Prinzengarde der Stadt Düsseldorf

This club, founded in 1928, has adopted a militaristic remit, seeing itself as the “personal bodyguards of the Karneval prince.” They call their parade a march, themselves a “corps,” and have taken to wearing bright red, faux-18th century uniforms complete with white wigs and frilly tricorne hats. When collected on a platform or float, they look like marzipan decorations on a cake. Their mascot is a donkey called “Strubbel,” who joins them on their march.

Karnevals-Zug Berlin

This club was founded in 2000 to introduce Karneval to Berlin, a Prussian and Protestant city with no real tradition of celebrating it. But these self-styled idealists beg to differ with the standard opinion, claiming Friedrich the Great himself was a fan. So far in its decade-long life, it has defied modern Berlin’s too-cool-for-school attitude, and the club claims that a million people turn up every year for their traditional parade. This year’s is on Sunday February 22.

Ben Knight (ben.knight@thelocal.de)

Today's headlines
Opinion
Do German unions have too much power?
Your plans are now cancelled. Photo: DPA

Do German unions have too much power?

Germany's pilots and train drivers are taking it in turns to bring the country to a standstill with strikes that have cost the economy tens of millions of euros in the last two weeks. Are unions abusing their power or standing up for their rights? READ  

Older workers can have extra days off
Photo: Workers in a German shoe factory. Photo: DPA

Older workers can have extra days off

Older workers in Germany are allowed more time off than younger ones, a court ruled on Tuesday, saying the difference was not discriminatory. READ  

Expat's family battles for answers four years on
Matthew Fitzpatrick died in 2010 in Mannheim. Photo: Fitzpatrick family

Expat's family battles for answers four years on

In 2010 an Irish computer engineer was found dead in his apartment in Baden-Württemberg. Four years on, his family are still pressing the German justice system for answers. They feel badly let down by police who they say have refused to examine evidence of foul play. READ  

Court: Germany can keep arms deals secret
The judges of the Supreme Court announce their decision about weapons exports on Tuesday. Photo: DPA

Court: Germany can keep arms deals secret

The government can keep arms deals secret and only tell the public about them after contracts have been signed, the Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday. READ  

Cash returned after bakery mix-up

Cash returned after bakery mix-up

Just how honest would you have to be to return €7,500 that you found in a box supposed to contain your favourite cheesecake? READ  

Tanker fills up gas station with wrong fuel
Photo: DPA

Tanker fills up gas station with wrong fuel

Around 160 car owners are stuck after a gas station's storage tanks were filled with the wrong fuel, causing an estimated €100,000 in damage. READ  

Lufthansa strike hits 1,500 flights
Photo: DPA

Lufthansa strike hits 1,500 flights

UPDATE: In the second day of their strike, Lufthansa pilots have, as promised, extended their industrial action to include long-haul international flights until the end of Tuesday. READ  

Merkel tells allies to pay Ukraine's gas debts
Chancellor Angela Merkel in Bratislava, Slovakia, on Monday. Photo: DPA

Merkel tells allies to pay Ukraine's gas debts

Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday called on Ukraine's allies to help the war-scarred nation pay off its gas debts to Russia, amid concern over gas supplies this winter. READ  

Steinmeier wants epidemic task force
Frank-Walter Steinmeier speaks at the World Health Summit in Berlin. Photo: DPA

Steinmeier wants epidemic task force

At the World Health Summit in Berlin, the Ebola crisis took centre stage at talks meant to create plans for how to handle future outbreaks. READ  

Nazi-stolen painting put on display, sort of
The Wiesbaden Museum in Hesse. Photo: DPA

Nazi-stolen painting put on display, sort of

The Wiesbaden Museum was once a collection house for art stolen from Jewish owners by the Nazi. With one painting, they hope to right at least one wrong while bringing awareness to its ongoing restitution work. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Photo: Mariana Schroeder
Munich
Hope and chaos at Munich's refugee shelters
Photo: DPA
Berlin
Robbers blow up Berlin bank
Photo: DPA
Culture
Can you top our history quiz leaderboard?
Photo: Facebook
Society
German motorcycle gang joins Isis fight
Photo: DPA
Politics
UKIP ‘seeks EU pact’ with German satirical party
Photo: DPA
Travel
This is the man who has stopped Germany's trains
Photo: Shutterstock
Business & Money
Expats: Should I stay or should I go?
Photo: DPA
Gallery
PHOTOS: World's biggest erotic fair opens in Berlin
Photo: DPA/Shutterstock
Gallery
11 things Germans are afraid of...
Photo: Shutterstock
Business & Money
Which expat foods do you miss the most?
Sponsored Article
International School on the Rhine: a legacy
Photo: DPA
Gallery
The ten richest people in Germany
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Sponsored Article
Bilingual education from nursery to graduation at Phorms
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

3,471
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd