• 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
The Local List
7 ways Germans get English totally wrong
Don't let their confidence fool you: Germans aren't always the best at English. Photo: DPA.

7 ways Germans get English totally wrong

11 minutes ago

As much as English-speakers might feel insecure about their Deutsch skills when faced with Germans' comparatively widespread grasp of English, Germans themselves often mess up English - in some pretty hilarious ways.

Mannschaft step forward to welcome refugees
Germany captain Bastian Schweinsteiger at a press conference earlier this week. Photo: DPA

Mannschaft step forward to welcome refugees

55 minutes ago

Germany's World Cup-winning footballers have condemned xenophobic attacks on the thousands of foreigners pouring into their country and led calls to help the refugees amidst the ongoing crisis.

Islamist vigilantes face trial for 'Sharia police'
Islamic fundamentalist preacher Sven Lau. Photo: DPA

Islamist vigilantes face trial for 'Sharia police'

2 hours ago

State prosecutors in the Ruhr city of Wuppertal said on Tuesday that they have brought charges against notorious Islamic fundamentalist Sven Lau, who was behind a short-lived 'Sharia police' vigilante force in the city.

Are you a typical expat living in Germany?
Expats love German schools, but they're not so sure they receive a good welcome. Photo: DPA

Are you a typical expat living in Germany?

4 hours ago

A new survey is full of revealing facts about expats in Germany, why they came here, what they love and what they loathe. So how do you measure up?

Lufthansa pilots 'could strike at any moment'
Photo: DPA

Lufthansa pilots 'could strike at any moment'

5 hours ago

Airline pilots' union Vereinigung Cockpit (VC) said on Wednesday that talks with Lufthansa had failed to reach an agreement and that their members could walk off the job at any moment.

Builder on speed blasts pepper spray at refugees
Emergency services in Massow on Tuesday evening. Photo: DPA

Builder on speed blasts pepper spray at refugees

6 hours ago

A man was arrested in Brandenburg on Tuesday evening after he attacked refugees with pepper spray while he was high on amphetamines. Eight of his victims were taken to hospital for treatment.

Ex-Chancellor Schmidt rushed to intensive care
Former Chancellor Helmut Schmidt was taken to hospital on Tuesday. Photo: DPA.

Ex-Chancellor Schmidt rushed to intensive care

8 hours ago

Helmut Schmidt, German Chancellor in the 1970s and early 1980s, has been taken into intensive care at a Hamburg hospital after suffering from a vascular obstruction in his right leg.

Smartwatches to shine at Berlin mega gadget fair
Photo: DPA

Smartwatches to shine at Berlin mega gadget fair

9 hours ago

Sleeker and sexier smartwatches are expected to premiere this week in Berlin at one of the world's biggest consumer electronics shows, with both phone manufacturers and watchmakers jostling for a share of the fast-growing market.

Poland to deploy army to hunt for Nazi gold train
An old mine shaft at Walbrzych in Poland. Photo: DPA

Poland to deploy army to hunt for Nazi gold train

9 hours ago

Poland said on Tuesday it would deploy the military to look for an alleged Nazi "gold train" that sparked global fascination after two anonymous treasure hunters claimed they had pinpointed where it is buried.

Munich woman bit sex attacker's tongue off
Photo: DPA

Munich woman bit sex attacker's tongue off

10 hours ago

A mother in Bavaria managed to bite off the tongue of a sex attacker who targeted her and her teenage daughter in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS

Features
'Berlin is kind of like the best American city'
Features
How Brits in Germany are facing Brexit fears
Sport
German named 'arse bombing' world champ
Travel
Retiree finds parked car after three-week search
National
Ten ways Germany puts Britain to shame
Business & Money
German gadget clamps down on Nutella thieves
Society
Is Germany now a nation of couch potatoes?
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

6,937
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd