Dhe simplest answer to the question why we carnival celebrate, people who live in Mainz, Bonn or Cologne can give. Because there is no other way, they say. To be more precise: Because around the carnival days, as a resident of Mainz, Bonn or Cologne, you only have the option of either celebrating or going away.
This is especially true for the Shrove Monday. Anyone who hasn’t had at least one Irish coffee by eleven o’clock in the morning and fetched last year’s spinach costume from the attic will not recognize themselves in their city. Being a normal person becomes an anomaly, the deviation from the norm.
Next year it will be again from February 16 to February 21, 2023. The carnival session 2023 starts on November 11th, 2022. The carnival week, more precisely the days between Thursday (Women’s Shrovetide) and the following Mardi Gras, is the highlight of the carnival session. On Ash Wednesday everything is over and Lent begins, which in turn prepares for Easter.
Carnival is celebrated differently regionally and worldwide, with special customs and partly their own focal points. It is only logical that there are also an almost infinite number of names: Mardi Gras, Fastnacht, Fassenacht, Fasnacht, Fasnet or the fifth season.
Because it’s sometimes nice not to have to fight about what’s really important, everyone naturally believes that their description of the “great days” is the only true one. And then continue arguing about what the popular carnival pastry is really called: Krapfen (in Franconia), pancakes (Berlin) or Kreppel?
In the carnival stronghold of Cologne, a very special season is coming up in 2023: the festival committee Cologne Carnival is 200 years old and some carnival societies are also celebrating the big anniversary.
One problem is that this deviation is being celebrated in a month like February, when it’s usually still too cold for street parties and you have to wrap various thermal wraps under your spinach costume, which makes the whole thing impractical but at times funnier , which is related to the purpose of the festival. Because the forerunners of today’s carnival were festivals that served to drive winter out of the world, to face the cold season with colorful and lively characters and thus to conquer them. A suggestion that’s actually tantamount to presumptuous – who can say that winter can be impressed by a few costumes?
However, presumptuousness is at the core of carnival in another respect, namely where it is about the relationship between the partying foot soldiers and the social leaders and dignitaries. The fact that the so-called Jeck can (and should) allow himself everything and at least for a few days not only brace himself against the winter, but can also rebel against authorities that used to be mainly ecclesiastical and are now more secular, also has its tradition in the early forms of ours carnivals Even the Romans are said to have had days (the “Saturnalia”, albeit celebrated in December) when slaves and masters sat at a table. A fun that you just couldn’t take away.
Not even from the various city councils who have tried time and again throughout history to ban the “masquerade”. And neither by people who, especially from the fifteenth century onwards, expended a great deal of energy on putting an end to the goings-on.
The carnival originally goes back to a pagan custom. In the course of time, however, it has been integrated into the calendar of Christian Catholic holidays, where it is the last rush before the Lent serves a purifying purpose. The carnival has long been two things: the (at least hoped) end of winter and the beginning of the pre-Easter retreat, the farewell to something passing and the preparation for something to come. And at least in modern times, carnival is also: a festival without a reason, an exercise in meaninglessness, in short, an opportunity that doesn’t come up every day. Luckily she comes back every year.