Today, on the 11th of November at 11 o’clock and 11 minutes, the fifth season of the year starts in some parts of Germany – it is ”Faschingszeit”! But why do Germans have an additional season and what do they celebrate? After reading this post, you will know this and the important vocabulary for this event!
“Karneval” marks the time between St. Martin’s day and the beginning of the fast before Easter. The real celebrations only start in January and February because of the fast before and the event of Christmas. As the Easter fast means that one needs to waive many things, one uses this time to celebrate and enjoy all pleasures that are forbidden during the fast.
Today the important center of carnival is the Rhineland, while it is also celebrated in other parts of Germany. Depending on where you are, this event is called by a various amount of names as like “Karnevall” or “Fasching”.
Date and time are chosen with “11” because, in medieval times, this number was associated with folly, prank, and fun while in Christianity this number is connected with sin and profanity.
During the 19th century the “Elferrat” – a kind of parliament of the carnival time – was established. The word “Elferrat” is composed of the two words “Elf” (11) and “Rat” (council).
Now, the 11 symbolizes the equality of all people as it was higher than the 10 of the 10 commands. Also, it was connected with the French idea of equality which gained power in the 18th century.
The street carnival and the celebrations in big halls are already starting on the Thursday before Rosenmontag – which is called “Weiberfastnacht”. During this day, women are “given the power” and therefore they cut men’s ties and can do whatever they want.
Rosenmontag (Rose Monday) marks the highlight of the celebrations which is the Monday before Ash Wednesday which marks the end of carnival.
In many cities, there are huge parades on Rosenmontag on which dressed up people celebrate. The idea behind the costume is that one can become somebody else and do things one would not do in normal life.
Mostly, the trucks on this parade have ironical and cynical designs which lampoon politicians, stars or debates recently hold.
Also, people are given sweets or other small presents from the trucks and scream “Narrenrufe” (foolish slogans) as “Helau” or “Alaaf”.
Many people also meet in big halls for such events. There, one can see the “Elerfat” most likely sitting on a stage and giving speeches called “Büttenrede” which are mostly very ironic or cynical and lampoon politicians or public events of the last year. Additionally, one can see musicians and dancing “Funkenmariechen” who are female dancers wearing a typical carnival outfit – they are a bit like the cheerleaders of carnival.
The day after Rosenmontag is called “Fastnacht” (fast night) which slowly introduce the idea of the upcoming fast.
“Aschermittwoch” (Ash Wednesday) marks the end of the celebrations. A straw doll called “Nubbel” is burned as a scapegoat for all of the sins which were made during the fifth season. At midnight all of the celebrations are over.
|der Karnevall / der Fasching||carnival|
|der Elferrat||“parliament of carnival”|
|die Weiberfastnacht||Thursday before Rosenmontag|
|der Rosenmontag||Rose Monday|
|die Fastnacht||Carnival (fast night)|
|der Aschermittwoch||Ash Wednesday|
|das Kostüm / die Verkleidung||costume|
|die Narrenrufe||fool calls|
|die Büttenrede||speech hold during the celebrations|
|das Funkenmariechen||girl of the dance group|
|der Narr / die Narren||fool, jester|
|Nubbel||name of the “scapegoat” at the end of the celebration that is burned|
|die Fastenzeit||fasting period|
|der Umzug / die Parade||parade|
|der Karnevalsverein||the carnival club|
|sich verkleiden||to dress up|