In my region there is a special tradition: the carnival. The area around Cologne, the city on the Rhine, is called the Rhineland and it is here that Carnival is celebrated in a particularly beautiful and unique way. This tradition was recognised by UNESCO and our carnival was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
The carnival has been a part of my life since childhood.
Every year, my mother, who was a good seamstress, sewed me beautiful costumes. For example, I was disguised as a princess, a cat, a chimney sweep or a clown. When I was 16 years of age I became active in a carnival club and was a dance girl (Tanzmariechen) for 4 years.
The time of year when carnival is celebrated in Cologne is also called the "fifth season". Officially, the carnival session begins on November 11th, on the eleventh day in the eleventh month. In Cologne the number 11 is considered to be a crazy (jecke) number.
That's why the carnival session opens on that day at exactly 11:11 a.m. in the centre of Cologne for thousands of happily disguised spectators. The reigning Cologne triumvirate (prince, farmer and maiden) is then introduced to the people. These are the representatives of Cologne Carnival, and all three are men in costume, including the virgin maiden!
At the opening, well-known carnival musicians sing old and new carnival songs, mostly in the Cologne dialect - and most people sing along joyfully.
Initially, the carnival takes place in large rooms, saloons and halls. There are numerous events with performances by carnival speakers, music groups and dance groups. Carnival does not reach its climax until the turn of the year.
The climax lasts for six days, beginning on Thursday (Women's Carnival) and continuing until Shrove Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday.
During these days there are many parades throughout Cologne, in which school groups, active carnival clubs and groups from different parts of the city take part. The big parade through the streets of Cologne's city centre on Rose Monday is particularly popular. All traditional clubs whose origins lie with Napoleon and the Prussians are present. There are also guest groups who make music, private carnival groups and large parade floats specially made for carnival. These floats include comical representations of political motifs or express themselves with splendid ideas on current events. The Rose Monday parade winds its way through the streets for more than 4.5 kms. Spectators in carnival costume stand for hours on either side of the parade route, not wanting to miss anything, and collect the sweets and flowers that are thrown into the crowd. Cologne's city centre is no longer recognisable, millions of people from Cologne and the surrounding area and many tourists - a sea of jubilation and hustle and bustle, music and joy.
It's all over on Ash Wednesday - as a carnival song also says. Then the Lenten season begins and calm returns to Cologne.
This year, due to the Russian attack on Ukraine, the Rose Monday parade on 28th February 2022 was cancelled. Instead there was a call for a peace demonstration taking the route where the parade usually leads along.
Approximately 250,000 people took part. It was very touching.
association of Bonn