About German Carnival


I don’t know about the rest of the world, but in Germany carnival officially started yesterday.

Not that I know that much about it. It has never been a part of my families tradition, and living in the northern part of Germany until I was 20, I haven’t been to a single grown up carnival party all my life.


From my childhood I remember the many and very long television programs from carnival events in and around Cologne and other places in the middle of Germany though.

Band (1)

Most of those events took place and were broadcasted in February, when you always could find at least a few of those programs at any time of the day, and I remember thinking it was strange to have a program about people who sat and ate and drank while they were listening to a kind of standup comedians for hours on end.


The only kind of carnival we had at the Danish school was a party one day a year – in February, where we dressed as princesses or superman or something like that and danced for a few hours.

During that party we also hit a barrel filled with candy and a soft toy – a cat- with a stick, and ate all the candy after the barrel fell down.

katten af tønden

Carnival in Germany starts on St Martins day, November 11th at 11.11 AM.

The reason for all those numbers 11 is said to stem from the slogan of the French revolution – Egalité, Liberté, Fraternité – ELF, which means eleven in German. The tradition is much older though and it is possible that ELF is an abbreviation of “Ey lustig fröhlich” which means something like “So gay and happy” and was written on a seal in the German town Kleve as far back as in 1381.


Anyway, people are happy and the carnival brings them through a big part of the dark time each year, and it lasts till Ash Wednesday, which is the 46th day before Easter Sunday. In 2015 it’s going to be February 18th.




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