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Altweiberfastnacht in Germany

Today is Altweiberfastnacht.

At eleven minutes past eleven, the citizens of Meerbusch (especially the women) will be dressed in strange costumes and storming the town hall. They will emasculate the mayor (symbolically, I hasten to add, by cutting off his tie) and oust him from his seat of power. In his place they will install the Hoppeditz, the fool, who will preside over the town for the rest of Karneval.

For good measure, all other men will also have their ties cut off. (It’s a good day to wear the hideous floral item your auntie gave you for Christmas.)

Karneval

The new town council

After this everyone will present themselves at the local hostelries where they will again set new records in beer consumption, while shouting “Helau!” a lot. Helau is the Karneval greeting in Düsseldorf (not to be confused with Alaaf! which is the greeting in the rival city of Köln).

Cheers and Helau everyone!

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Düsseldorf Karneval 2011 – “Jebuddelt, jebaggert, jebützt”

Now that Christmas and New Year are over, the Germans are starting to look forward to Karneval. Karneval is all about drinking. Of course technically speaking, we are in the Karneval season already. It began on November 11th last year with the Hoppeditz Erwachen session. The start of Karneval involves much drinking. This is when the “Hoppeditz” – the chief fool – claims power and the Fünfte Jahreszeit (fifth season, ie the silly season) starts. The motto of this year’s Karneval in Düsseldorf is: “Jebuddelt, jebaggert, jebützt” – local dialect meaning, “dug, bulldozed and plastered.” (edit: apparently jebützt means kissed – more on this in the comments). Don’t ask me to make sense of it… unusually for the Germans, nothing at Karneval makes any sense. Not surprising really, considering how much drinking is involved.

From November to the start of the pre-Lent festivities, nothing much happens outside of the actual Karneval Verein (the organising club who stage the Karneval celebrations each year). They hold sessions (these involve much drink, silly hats, comedy and song) and meanwhile everyone else gets on with their normal lives.

Then on Altweiberfastnacht – March 3rd this year – the Altweiber… the old women of the town, in hideous fancy dress, will storm the town hall led by the Hoppeditz, evict and emasculate the mayor and install their Karneval Prinz in power for the duration of Karneval. Hoppeditz and the Prinz will give a speech from the balcony of the town hall to the Alterweiber and other fools in the square below. Then everyone will get enormously drunk for five days.

Antennedüsseldorf via flickr

The Hoppeditz arrives to oust the mayor

by antenneduesseldorf via Flickr

Hoppeditz Erwachen - meet the new mayor!

by antennedüsseldorf via flickr

Düsseldorfers who at other times of the year are pretty sensible

Karneval’s highpoint is Rosenmontag, when there is a huge Karneval procession through the streets with elaborate floats, often with witty political messages.

Did I mention the drinking?

 

For more about German Karneval traditions, see my post over at Birds on the Blog:

John F. Kennedy, doughnuts and some very messy Germans

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