The Cologne Carnival

Cologne without its carnival? For many inhabitants of Cologne and people who like to celebrate the traditions of carnival it's simply unimaginable. What many do not know is that the Cologne Carnival is not a postmodern phenomenon in its present form, but may have long traditions. The Cologne Carnival is almost as old as history itself. During Spring time the Greeks and the Romans celebrated cheerful festivals with wine, women and song in honor of their gods. The Germans on the other hand celebrated the winter expel demons, as it is still practiced in many counties. The Christians then continued the pagan customs and heralded the start of the pre-Easter Lent with the carnival. "Carne vale" means "meat, farewell!"

The Middle Ages knew no mercy when it came to the celebration, so Council and the Church vehemently tried to keep it in check. Since the 18th Century carnival was celebrated along the lines of the Venetian model. Only the upper class was able to enjoy the masquerade as it was celebrated on balls. This nobility groups called themselves "Redouten". In 1736 the first group of "Redouten" was established near Cologne's Neumarkt.

Neither the French nor the invading Prussians were able to stop the carnival. Nevertheless the Prussians managed to keep carnival in order for the first time. They named a leader, the "hero Carnival" who in present times is known as "the Prince". 1823 then, they founded "the Organising Committee" and the first Rose monday parade ran through Cologne's city. From their on different companies emerged like the "Roten Funken". All of them has one goal in common ... to  worship the city of Cologne. As a special feature of the Cologne Carnival the Virgin of the "Triumvirate" has always been represented by a man. In 1860, the first ghost parade ran through Cologne, at a carnival Saturday. This tradition continued till present. The company of the "Roten Funken" embodied the former city soldiers. 1902 the Farmer and the Virgin of the "Triumvirate" got their own guard of honor. In 1906, the Prince finally got his own guard, the "Prinzengarde". "Kölle and it's Carnival" became famous across the city limits.

The original cologne dialect and the happy songs are some of the main reasons carnival is so appealing to a lot of people. The fifth season of Cologne, as it's called by inhabitants, starts every year on 11.11. at 11:11 clock and finds its climax on Carnival Monday. On Ash Wednesday, then it's all over.