This post is a summary of the magical, exhilarating, utterly-confusing experience that is German KARNEVAL! Karneval is a pre-Easter celebration that culminates on Rosenmontag (Rose Monday) and is celebrated all along the western border of Germany. In short: people dress up in costumes, host political roasts called “Karnevalsitzungen”, and get absolutely, delightfully drunk. The capital city of Karneval is, of course, Cologne ;), so on Saturday night I put on a bee costume, and hit the town with friends! I discovered that Germans approach finding parking spaces much like they do space in dance clubs- if there isn’t any, make some. Before long, costumed Karneval-ists were hoisting themselves onto windowsills (beer in hand!) to dance the night away! I confess my Canadian personal space was feeling a bit invaded, but after 3 or 4 Koelsch (local Colognian beer) I was feeling completely at home! Personal space?? What’s THAT?? Yes folks, in the spirit of the fun, freedom, and fabulousness that is Karneval I broke from my usual alcohol abstinence and partied like a ROCKSTAR (in bee antennae and wings)! I think my favourite quote of the evening has to be from the train conductor on the way there who asked (quite politely I might add) over the megaphone if the man in the chicken suit could kindly stop blocking the train doors.
The next morning I met my cousin and her friends to watch the Kinderzug (Childrens’ parade) in Cologne. Schools, and various childrens’ organizations put together a FOUR HOUR parade full of dazzling costumes, floats, and FANTASTIC musicians. Now, this isn’t the Granny-and-little-Jimmy sit quietly on the sidelines type of parade that North Americans are used to; once again the spectators dress up, gather together with friends, and once you’re feeling drunk enough you start boisterously calling, “KOELLE, KOELLE, KOELLE, ALAAF, ALAAF, ALAAF!” so that parade-ers will through sweets, flowers, and all sorts of delightful things at you. Soon there was candy, confetti and irresistible laughter raining through the air, while spectators and participants alike broke into traditional Karnevalslieder (Karneval folksongs). It was magical, it was beautiful, and Santa Clause Parade, you ain’t got nothin’ on this Baby! Now that I’ve experienced Karneval in all its glory, I think it’s safe to say that this Canadian has become a fan.