This morning just before 11 a strange crowd of German women will be assembling in front of our town hall… this is Altweiberfastnacht, one of the most important dates in the local calendar for Jecken (fools), and these are the Altweiber (old women) or Möhne (hags) as they are known locally . At exactly 11 minutes past 11 o’clock, the Möhne will storm the town hall, oust the mayor from office and install their carnival prince in his place. They will “emasculate” the mayor symbolically by snipping off his tie. Every other male in Germany is liable to suffer the same fate… so not a day to put on the best Hermes in your wardrobe…
Tag Archives: karneval
We’re in the middle of the fifth season here in the Rhineland. The silly season. Karneval season.
The normally sensible and dare I say, somewhat dull members of the local community will be dressed in odd uniforms, wigs, feathered hats and face paint for the next few days as they go about their normal business or drink in the local pubs.
Karneval is now building up to Rosenmontag – the day of the big processions. In the Rhineland there is always a political dimension to the parades. Fabulous floats drive through the streets with oversized 3D caricatures of local, national and international politicians. This year I think we can confidently expect Mr. zu Guttenberg and his cut-and-paste doctoral thesis to feature prominently.
I also think some of the previous years’ ideas could well be reused…the Hoppeditz clearly didn’t manage to get much changed last time he was (briefly) in power!
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.)
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!
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.
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:
It’s coming round to that time of year again when the Germans think it’s normal and sensible to go out dressed like this. Just saying…
Shall I stay and join in the madness, or head for the hills? Decisions… decisions…
As Karneval continues there has been much rummaging around in cupboards and boxes to find the components of ever more fanciful costumes.
My youngest daughter has unearthed a fabulous original 1970s kaftan which used to belong to my Mother. So now she’s a groovy hippy. Far out man!
OK. So I’m weird. I have six cats.
Here are a couple of them – the dinner-suit boys.
Well this morning I suddenly found this in my kitchen.
It seems that my eldest daughter is going to Karneval as a black and white cat.
Tuna for lunch then.
They have a sense of fun deficit. They take themselves way too seriously. They lack spontaneity. They never get the joke, because they don’t have a sense of humour…
So here is a short clip of some very boring Germans taking themselves extremely seriously at this time of year.
Tomorrow is the start of Karneval in Germany.
It will all start at exactly eleven minutes past eleven. On the dot.
If you are an unsuspecting male visitor here in the Rhineland, the first you’ll know about it is when a horde of middle aged women in coloured wigs and clown noses descends on you wielding scissors. They will then cut off your tie. Possibly your shoelaces as well. Laugh about it (even if it was an expensive tie).
You see, tomorrow is Altweiberfastnacht… “ladies’ day” if you’re being polite… or “old crones’ day” if you’re not. Don’t worry… they’re only emasculating you. Have a beer and lament your lost manhood.
The Altweiber will not detain you once you’ve lost your gender-symbol. They’ll continue on their way to the Rathaus, where they will force entry, storm the mayor’s office and eject him (also minus his manhood) until next Tuesday, installing their Karneval Prince in his place. The lunatics have taken over the asylum. Don’t panic. Have another beer.
Karneval is the start of five days of mad excessive celebration. Everyone on the streets, in the bars and in shops and businesses will be wearing fancy dress and drinking to excess. Half of the population throws themselves into the madness… and the other half flees the cities, either barricading themselves into their homes for five days, or heading for the airport to escape.
School children particularly love Karneval. They go to school in fancy dress and spend their time partying and spraying each other with silly string. Well it’s more fun than doing sums.
The older ones leave school at eleven minutes past eleven and hit the town with the rest of the adult population… arriving home late afternoon, trying to disguise their underage drunkenness as youthful exuberence. It usually works. Their parents have been dressed as clowns and drinking beer since before midday too.
The question is whether to hide, or whether to join in the madness….