A real carnival fool doesn’t let a little credit crunch get him down. At least that’s the feeling among a majority of carnival celebrants in the lead up to the highlight of Germany’s so-called “fifth season” later this month, Rose Monday.
The sentiment was revealed by a survey by the DPA news agency, which asked leaders of carnival organisations around the country if they planned to scale back the partying in the face of all the economic doom and gloom.
“Economic crises in the past have always meant that the fools are especially active,” said Roland Wehrle, the president of a carnival association in the state of Baden-Württemberg.
Even at ground zero of carnival in Germany, Cologne, the mood is giddy as always in anticipation of this year’s six days of public intoxication and libertinism from February 19 – 24 followed by one massive hangover on Ash Wednesday, when the fun comes screeching to a halt.
Sigrid Krebs, spokeswoman for the Cologne Festival Committee, says her own survey of various carnival associations in the area found no appreciable change from last year – no major events have been cancelled.
“At the most, a few gatherings by smaller associations may have an empty chair or two at the back,” she said, but she said the show would definitely go on.
Frankfurt’s Rose Monday parade will have even more floats this year than in 2008, according to that city’s main carnival group. The same goes for the city of Wiesbaden. Some feared that many of the sponsors of floats, essential for parade financing, could pull out. That does not seem to be the case.
The only place where carnival does seem to be experiencing a downturn in these tough financial times is in eastern Germany, where the celebrations have been imported – with questionable success – from the west.
“We can’t fill the rooms at carnival events any more,” said Edmund Braun, the chair of the Berlin Carnival Committee.
That could be because carnival is not imprinted in the DNA of Germans in the eastern part of the country, as it is in those from the Rhine River region and in other traditionally Catholic parts of the country.
For them, nothing beats away the winter blues like beer, costumes, parades and silly songs. If they’ve seen their investments evaporate or their job is about to be cut, just pour ’em another.