Monday, 23 February 2009
Rosenmontag...another meaning but Alaaaaaaaaaf!
Rosenmontag (which means "running Monday" from the Kölsch word roose (run) and not Roses' Monday) is the highlight of the German "Karneval" (carnival), and is on the Collop Monday before Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. The "Mardi Gras," though celebrated on Tuesday, is a comparison. Rosenmontag is celebrated in German-speaking countries, including Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, but most heavily in the "Hochburgen", German carnival strongholds, which include the Rhineland (especially Cologne, Düsseldorf, Aachen, and Mainz).
The Karneval season begins at 11 minutes past the eleventh hour on the 11th of November and the "street carnival" starts on the Thursday before Rosenmontag, which is known as Weiberfastnacht ("women's carnival"). Karneval is prevalent in Roman Catholic areas and is a continuation of the old Roman traditions of slaves and servants being master for a day. Karneval derives from the Latin "Carne Vale" - literally Goodbye Meat marking the beginning of Lent.
Carnival is not a national holiday in Germany, but schools are closed on Rosenmontag and the following Tuesday in the strongholds and many other areas. Many schools as well as companies tend to give teachers, pupils and employees the Friday before Rosenmontag off as well and have celebrations in school or in the working place on Weiberfastnacht, although every now and then there are efforts to cut these free holidays in some companies.
Celebrations usually include dressing up in fancy costumes, dancing, parades, heavy drinking and general public displays with floats. Every town in the Karneval areas boats at least one parade with floats making fun of the themes of the day. Usually sweets (Kamelle) are thrown into the crowds lining the streets among cries of "Helau" (Mainz area) or "Alaaf" (Cologne area) - a great experience for the young and young at heart. Little bottles of Kölnischwasser (eau de Cologne) are thrown into the crowd.
Things go quiet the next day, known as "Veilchendienstag" (Shrove Tuesday).
The best view is to get your computer and blog while watching the
parade in the television.
Alaaaaaaaaaaaf in our region, Helaaaaaaaaaaaau on the periphery
and this could be a source of debate which one is the real,
original Carnival Scream.