• Germany's news in English
 

Karneval – the societies

Ben Knight · 7 Feb 2013, 06:17

Published: 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
Robber threatens woman with “HIV syringe”
File photo: DPA

Robber threatens woman with “HIV syringe”

36 minutes ago

A shocked woman in Munich called police on Sunday evening after a man climbed into her car, demanded her purse – and threatened her with a syringe he said contained HIV.

Day in court for first Loveparade disaster case
Crosses adorn the stairs which festival-goers fought to reach to escape the crush. Photo: DPA

Day in court for first Loveparade disaster case

1 hour ago

July 2015 marked five years since one of the worst tragedies in modern German history. But this week, those affected by the 2010 Duisburg Loveparade disaster will finally see the case come to court.

Refugee crisis tests EU's core ideals: Merkel
Angela Merkel. Photo: DPA

Refugee crisis tests EU's core ideals: Merkel

1 hour ago

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday said the refugee crisis facing Europe is testing the core ideals of universal rights at the heart of the European Union.

German named 'arse bombing' world champ
Going down with a bang. The splash diving championships 2015. Photo: DPA

German named 'arse bombing' world champ

4 hours ago

Summer went out with a bang - and a splash - in southwest Germany, where the finals of the "arse bombing“ world championship 2015 were held on Sunday.

Formula One
Rosberg 'overwhelmed' by birth of daughter
Formula One Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg with his wife Vivian. File photo: DPA

Rosberg 'overwhelmed' by birth of daughter

5 hours ago

Star Formula One driver Nico Rosberg confirmed on Monday that he and his wife Vivian are now the parents of a baby girl, saying the couple were “overwhelmed and totally in love”.

'No limit to refugees Germany can take in'
Refugees arrive at an intake centre. Photo: DPA

'No limit to refugees Germany can take in'

6 hours ago

Germany's top official dealing with refugees said on Monday that there was 'no upper limit' to Germany's capacity for taking in people in need of asylum.

Berlin orchestra's Tehran concert blocked by Iran
Daniel Barenboim. Photo: DPA

Berlin orchestra's Tehran concert blocked by Iran

7 hours ago

Iran has barred famed conductor Daniel Barenboim from entering the Islamic republic because of his Israeli citizenship, thwarting his plan to lead a performance in Tehran, media reported Sunday.

Bundesliga
Dortmund reclaim top spot with Hertha win
Borussia Dortmund celebrate scoring against Hertha Berlin. Photo:DPA

Dortmund reclaim top spot with Hertha win

8 hours ago

Borussia Dortmund reclaimed top spot in the Bundesliga from Bayern Munich on Sunday with a 3-1 victory over Hertha Berlin -- their eighth straight win under new coach Thomas Tuchel.

Germany's friendship vow to Afghanistan
Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Afghanistan on Sunday. Photo:DPA

Germany's friendship vow to Afghanistan

8 hours ago

Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said that German friendship with Afghanistan had "no end date" as he visited Kabul under tight security on Sunday.

Migrants crisis
German media and celebs rally for refugees
A welcome party for refugees in Heidenau on Friday. Photo: DPA

German media and celebs rally for refugees

23 hours ago

Germany may have witnessed violent anti-refugee protests this week -- but the message from the country's media and celebrities is a loud and determined welcome for people fleeing the horrors of war.

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS

National
Weekend of anti-refugee violence shocks Germany
National
Half of Germans 'have had sex in their car'
Society
Deadly stew spooks home vegetable gardeners
Politics
The man who brought two Germanies together
Features
Where to get your culture fix in Cologne
Education
Fairytale world of Brothers Grimm brought to life
Rhineland
Thieves leave 1,000 open beers untasted
National
Way to some Germans' hearts is through their wallets
National
Germany's biggest challenge: European refugee crisis
Travel
Where to get your adrenaline pumping in Germany
Technology
Could thieves hack into luxury cars?
What to watch out for when snapping your lunch
National
German lefties through history
National
The fight over prostitution heats up
National
Merkel: migrants, not Greece, are the real challenge
Features
How I explained the Queen to the Germans
Education
Why Germany does 'back-to-school' traditions better
National
Germans are ‘not how foreigners think’
National
A mum and daughter reunite 70 years after WWII
Sport
Bra stops bullet in hunting mishap miracle
National
Cows trample German woman to death in Graubünden Alps
Business & Money
Start-up helps new Berliners short cut bureaucracy
National
The 1,000s of Germans massacred after the Second World War
Sport
Germany star scores own goal with PR gaffe
Features
'Women-only' parking: sensible or sexist?
Politics
Satire and reality blur in parody party's strife
National
13-year-old boy detained for trying to join Isis
Culture
Berlin restaurant serves up Greek Crisis Menu
Rhineland
Doctor on trial after woman wakes in morgue
Society
Six odd things Germans do in the summer
Society
Police bust kinky Bavarian couple over painful love-making
Politics
Merkel brings Palestinian girl to tears
Hamburg
Amateur archaeologist finds Nazi gold hoard
National
Could Merkel learn a lesson in love from this doppelganger?
Travel
Why you should stay in Germany for the summer holidays
Sport
German press tell Schweinsteiger 'good riddance'
National
Hamburg gets a bouncing 100kg baby girl
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

6,967
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd