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German word of the day: Zoch

Freya Jones
Freya Jones - [email protected]
German word of the day: Zoch
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

If you live in Germany's Rhine Region, chances are you've heard this word on Monday.

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Why do I need to know Zoch?

Rosenmontag (Rose Monday) marks the highlight of the German carnival season. If you're taking part in the colourful celebrations then you've spotted several of these travelling through the streets.

READ ALSO: The calls you'll hear at Carnival - and what they mean

What does it mean?

Many German cities celebrate Karneval (carnival), but Cologne is known for the most splendid celebration of all. “Zoch” means “Zug” in Cologne’s regional dialect, which is “train” or “procession” in standard German.

So... “Der Zoch kütt” literally means “the carnival procession is coming!”

Zoch

A 'Zoch' taking place in Cologne on Monday. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Oliver Berg

Rose Monday falls directly before Shrove Tuesday, historically making it the last chance for Christians to celebrate before Lent. Today it remains a huge public holiday in the Rhineland region, where “Zoch” has been used to refer to Cologne’s carnival parades since the 19th century. 

The Cologne Zoch is often more than six kilometers long, with people coming from all over the country to take part. Monday's Mega-Zoch in the Cathedral City was even estimated to span 8.5 kilometres. It’s made up of marchers, bands, floats, professional performers and the general public. 

The cities of Düsseldorf and Mainz also have big parades for the end of carnival season, but here the Zoch might be called the Rosenmontagszug instead. The rivalry between Cologne’s procession and others is significant, so details matter!

How can I use it?

Der Kölner Rosenmontagszoch ist der größte in der Region.

The Cologne carnival procession is the biggest in the region.

Schau dir den Zoch an!

Look at the parade!

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