Sunday, 26 February 2017

Carnival in Germany

I think it is a shame that Ireland is not into carnival. We celebrate St. Patrick's Day with parades and  drowning the shamrock. We celebrate winning at International Rugby, Football (in season) and Horse Racing. Cheltenham is coming up and already there is a fever in the air at the prospect of spending a few days away and maybe, just maybe, having the winner of the Gold Cup. Yes, I'll be putting some money on and watching it on television. My point is, we are good at celebrating and holding parades so I wonder why carnival never caught on either in Ireland or England. All we end up doing is eating pancakes on Shrove Tuesday. Sounds a bit tame in comparison, doesn't it?
When I lived in Germany I was amazed when someone explained about "Fasching" which is their word for carnival. I would never have thought that the somewhat stiff and formal Germans would indulge in such frivolities. They do, and they really let themselves go. The carnival season starts at 11 minutes past 11 on the morning of the 11th day of the 11th month, that's 11 a.m. on November 11th in case you're lost. A king and queen of carnival is chosen for each town and village and they attend all the balls and other events which are held.  They dress up with crowns and sumptious gear, too. My neighbours took it very seriously and had a different costume for each of the balls they went to.
The last three days before Ash Wednesday, when Lent begins, are the wildest part. In the town where I lived there was a parade on Rose Monday (Rosenmontag) which ended in the storming of the town hall. We had a real cannon which shot confetti into the air and onto the balcony of the town hall until the mayor came out with his staff and "surrendered". We all then rushed inside where food and music and drinks were provided. Everyone danced. My children loved it.
I would like to attend the carnival in Venice with its masked balls but I have a sneaking suspicion that although very elegant, it wouldn't be half the fun. Now, the mardi gras in New Orleans or a trip to Rio where no one sleeps for the three days before Ash Wednesday (or so I'm told) would be certainly unforgettable - in more ways than one.
Failing that, I might try to be in Germany or Austria come to that, which also celebrates carnival, for next year's season. To my readers in Germany a big : Helau!

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