• Germany's news in English
 
app_header_v3

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.

Story continues below…

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
Merkel party leader admits sexism is a problem
Jenna Behrends complained that a member of CDU's Berlin government had called her a "big sweet mouse" in front of a large group. Photo: Sophia Kembowski/dpa

A leader of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative party admitted Sunday that it has a problem with sexism in its ranks.

Ethiopia's Bekele nears record as wins Berlin marathon
Participants in the Berlin marathon take to the streets on Sunday. Photo:Paul Zinken/dpa

Kenenisa Bekele narrowly missed out on the world record on Sunday as the Ethiopian won the Berlin marathon ahead of former winner Wilson Kipsang.

Europe needs deals to send migrants home: Merkel
Angela Merkal poses with Bulgaria's Prime minister Boyko Borissov (L) and Austrian chancellor Christian Kern (R) in Vienna. Photo: Joe Klamar/AFP

Europe needs to secure more deals to send rejected migrants home, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has told counterparts in Vienna.

Germany sees 'turning point' in birth rate decline
Children at a a kindergarten in Swabia. Photo: Nikolaus Lenau/Flickr

Is Germany's three-decade decline in birth rate now over?

Trump protesters rebuild and tear down 'Berlin Wall'
The 'Stop Trump' protest at the Brandenburg Gate. Photo: DPA.

US expats gathered at the Berlin's iconic Brandenburg Gate on Friday "rebuild" the Berlin Wall and protest US presidential candidate Donald Trump's own proposed wall-building.

Accusation of sexism within Merkel's party creates uproar
Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen and Chancellor Angela Merkel, two leading women in the CDU party. Photo: DPA.

A young politician from the ranks of Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) has caused a storm by suggesting that the party is institutionally sexist.

EasyJet 'in talks to buy German airline' to duck Brexit
Photo: DPA

EasyJet is in talks to acquire TUIfly, a board member of the German carrier said Friday, as the British no-frills airline looks for ways to keep flying freely within the EU after Britain quits the bloc.

Symbols of migrant plight to go on show in Bonn museum
Photo: DPA

A people smugglers' car, a dinghy and a life jacket are among items related to Europe's migration crisis due to go on display at a German museum.

Brexit
Green party demand 'quick and easy' citizenship for Brits
Photo: DPA

The Green party has called for Brits living in Germany to be offered a painless path to obtaining dual citizenship as to "reassure them over the future".

Berlin the new London? 10m2 flat to rent for €750 a month
Photo: Immonet.de.

This shoebox apartment in the gentrified Bergmann-Kiez neighbourhood may be a sign that the tides are turning for Berlin’s comparatively cheap housing market.

Sponsored Article
The Inner Circle: the secret to dating in Berlin
Lifestyle
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
Lifestyle
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
National
Seven great reasons to stay in Germany this September
National
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Sponsored Article
Retiring abroad: ensuring your health is covered
National
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
National
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
Culture
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Rhineland
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
Culture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
Lifestyle
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
Sponsored Article
The Inner Circle: the secret to dating in Berlin
Gallery
Germany's 17 Olympic gold medals in pictures
14 facts you never knew about the Brandenburg Gate
Society
Ten times Germans proved they really, really love beer
National
Six things you need to know when moving to Germany
Travel
These 10 little-known German towns are a must see
International
German scientists prove birds can sleep while flying
Technology
London v. Berlin: Which is better for startups?
Lifestyle
13 mortifying mistakes German learners always make
Travel
Enter if you dare: Berlin's best abandoned haunts
Lifestyle
10 rookie errors all Brits make when they arrive in Germany
5,644
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd