Carnival, Mardi Gras and Mardi Gras

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As carnival , carnival , Fassenacht , carnival , carnival , carnival , almost evening , Fastelovend , Fasteleer or fifth season is defined as the customs by which the time before the forty days of Lent is celebrated omitted. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and is used to prepare for Easter .

Carnival is celebrated very differently: Carnival parades , music, masks and dressing up play a role. The carnival in Latin America developed a vitality of its own , for example at the Oruro carnival or the Rio carnival . Also known are the Carnival in Venice , in Canada the Carnival of Québec , the Mid-Fast Carnival on Sunday Laetare in Stavelot and other places in the Belgian eastern cantons as well as in Spain the Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife and the Carnival in Cádiz . Also in the southern states of the United States there is a strong Carnival tradition. As used in New Orleans the French name Mardi Gras ( Fat Tuesday , Shrove Tuesday ). The carnival in Namibia takes place in different places in the country and is no longer related to Lent. In the German-speaking area, the “strongholds” are the Rhineland and the Swabian-Alemannic Carnival .


Carnival parade in Lucerne


Carnival precursors were celebrated 5000 years ago in Mesopotamia , the country with the first urban cultures. An old Babylonian inscription from the 3rd millennium BC. Chr. Reports that a seven-day festival was celebrated under the priest-king Gudea , namely after the New Year as a symbolic wedding of a god . The inscription says: “No grain is milled on these days. The slave is on an equal footing with the mistress and the slave at his master's side. The powerful and the low are respected. ”This is the first time that the principle of equality is practiced at boisterous celebrations, and this is still a characteristic feature of Carnival today.

Similar festivals, mostly related to the awakening of nature in spring, can be found in all cultures of the Mediterranean: In Egypt , the exuberant festival was celebrated in honor of the goddess Isis and the Greeks held it for their god Dionysus and called it Apocries .

The Romans finally celebrated from December 17 19 December, the Saturnalia in honor of their god Saturn . The festival was connected with a public feast to which everyone was invited. Executions were postponed because of the Saturnalia. Slaves and masters occasionally swapped roles, celebrated and sat together at the table with myrtle wreaths , drank and ate, could dare every free word and showered themselves with small roses . The confetti known in our day may have originated from the roses . The Romans already organized colorful parades, during which a decorated ship wagon was pulled around.

However, in current research, dates such as Saturnalia or Lupercalia are strongly doubted as the origin of the Carnival tradition. Pre-Christian rites , for example those of the Celtic religion , seem to have been preserved in many masks, figures and customs, which include the change from the cold winter half-year to the warm and fertile summer half-year. They tried to drive away the winter by disguising themselves as ghosts, goblins and eerie characters from nature and lashing out with wooden sticks or making noise with a rattle or ratchet . In Carnival customs in Tyrol and South Tyrol , the symbolization of the struggle between light and darkness, between good and evil, between spring and winter still takes place. Examples of this are the Egetmann parade in Tramin or the Mullerlauf in Thaur .

Germanic theories (so-called continuity premises ) were particularly popular during National Socialism , but are still sometimes cited unconsciously. The skepticism towards all theories that assume a tradition of Germanic or Celtic customs has persisted since 1945. For this reason, it can be assumed that there were no festivals similar to Carnival for several centuries, but rather that they arose in the high and late Middle Ages with the Lent.

middle Ages

Street Carnival 1932
Street carnival in a Catholic village in the Eastern Netherlands
"Carnival of Međimurje ", Northern Croatia (2011)

In medieval Europe, from the 12th century to the end of the 16th century, "fools' festivals" were celebrated around Epiphany , January 6th. Such celebrations also took place in churches, but they were not church celebrations. The lower clerics temporarily took over the rank and privileges of the higher clergy. Church rituals were parodied. Even a “Pope” was chosen, on December 28th, the day of the innocent children , a child bishop was often chosen. The inhabitants of the cities also took part in the festival in the form of processions. Even during the actual carnival days, fools and donkey fairs were widespread.

The currently oldest known literary mention of the "fasnaht" can be found in a part of the Parzival of the minstrel Wolfram von Eschenbach dated to the year 1206 . There it is said that "the koufwip zu Tolenstein on the fasnaht never fought baz" Wolfram von Eschenbach describes in flowery words how the women around the castle of the Counts von Hirschberg-Dollnstein grotesque games, dances and disguises on the Thursday before Ash Wednesday performed. The small market town of Dollnstein in the Altmühltal (Bavaria) therefore claims to be the cradle of the German Carnival in general and the Weiberfastnacht in particular.

One of the early mentions of Carnival can be found in Christoph Lehmann's Speyerer Chronik from 1612, which reports from old files: “In 1296, the mischief of Carnival started a little early / in it a number of burgers in a burial place with the Clerisey Gesind carried away the worst / afterwards the matter is arduously attached to the rhetoric / and umb the wicked begged punishment. ”(Clerisey Gesind means the servants of the bishop and the cathedral chapter , i.e. the clergy, in the cathedral immunity ). The council forced the provost to surrender the clergy for punishment. For the cathedral chapter, these attacks gave rise to legal action against the city council and citizens, and excommunication was threatened. However, due to the city's determined response, the matter petered out.

On March 5, 1341, the word "Fastelovend" is mentioned in the so-called Eidbuch of the city of Cologne with the remark that the council may no longer approve any money for it - despite the earlier usual subsidy payment to the " Richerzeche ", that group of wealthy citizens, who were later called patricians : “But the council should not grant any society subsidies from the city's property at Mardi Gras.” On October 26, 1353 it was made clear that the archbishop Wilhelm von Gennep forbade the clergy and religious from selling or serving beer and wine ; this proved that there was obviously a great interest in alcoholic beverages during Carnival. In June 1369 the ban was lifted again as part of a compromise. On July 1, 1412, the Cologne Council prohibited holding games and dances in secret places and in guild houses without the knowledge and will of the guilds. In 1422, the Cologne farmer was first mentioned in a poem as the shield holder of the empire. In 1425 the farmer appeared for the first time in a Rose Monday procession . Around 1440 depictions of the carnival were created in a frieze by Gürzenich .

The Cologne city council repeatedly forbade the “ Mummenschanz ”, for example in 1487 the “bombing, staking and bequeathing” and in the 17th century several times “the mummerey and heathen raving”, probably because of excesses that were difficult to control. In 1570 the Cologne Virgin appeared for the first time next to the farmer. She embodied the city founder Agrippina and the free independent city .

The medieval carnival is traced back to the Augustinian teachings in his work De civitate Dei . Carnival therefore stands for the civitas diaboli , the state of the devil. Therefore, the often degenerate Carnival was tolerated by the church as a didactic example to show that the civitas diaboli, like humans, is transitory and that in the end God remains victorious. Mardi Gras had to end on Ash Wednesday in order to illustrate the inevitable conversion to God. While the church remained inactive during scenes of profanity blasphemy, the continued celebration of Shrovetide into Ash Wednesday was strictly persecuted.

In the late 14th and 15th centuries in particular, Shrovetide was celebrated in Germany. B. the Nuremberg Schembart runs . Around this time the fool also found his way into the carnival, who in the didactic sense of the carnival was supposed to point out the transitoriness .

In some Fast Pay - particularly in Tyrol - is against this background already on Shrove Tuesday evening for " Betzeitläuten saved" the mask at six o'clock. The background is not clear. Caesar already wrote of the custom of the Celts to start the new day at nightfall, just as the new year began for them with the onset of winter (compare Halloween ). On the other hand, the beginning of the day at nightfall is also an element of Jewish and early Christian tradition.

The Acireale Carnival near Catania is the oldest in Sicily

On February 9, 1609, the carnival festival and "Mummerei" were again banned in Cologne in order to preserve public order. In addition to the usual drumming and trumpeting, it often degenerated into excesses - including those wearing spiritual clothing. In 1610 the journeyman craftsmen were allowed to do their thing again in their mummery, in 1640 the people and the lower clergy even named “fool bishops”. On February 7, 1657, the council was again banned from "Mummerei" during the carnival season. In 1660 an inner-city protection force was set up, which was called Sparks . That was probably the hour of birth of the Kölner Sparks . Despite the ban on masking, a city soldier was stabbed to death by carnivalists in 1699.

Modern times

The Reformation challenged pre-Easter Lent. The carnival lost its meaning. In Protestant areas, many customs were partly forgotten again. In the baroque and rococo periods , carnival festivals were celebrated mainly in castles and royal courts, the masks of which were based heavily on the Italian commedia dell'arte .

On the Thursday before Carnival in February 1729, the nuns danced and jumped through the halls in the St. Mauritius Monastery in Cologne in secular disguise. That was probably the first women's carnival . In 1733 the Jesuits wanted to overcome the excesses during the carnival season with special carnival games. On February 7, 1779, masquerades and mummery were again banned in Cologne, this time because of the danger of war as a potential source of danger.

While in the cities increasingly craft guilds , where especially the young fellows to line up the carnival, took over in the early 19th century, especially in the Rhine region, the bourgeoisie the ceremony, as guilds in the wake of the French Revolution and the invasion of French troops under Napoleon Bonaparte in importance lost or even dissolved. The French occupiers forbade Carnival in Cologne on February 12, 1795, but allowed it on the 7th  Pluviôse of the year XII. (January 28, 1804) again. In 1804, carnival was allowed again, but it was viewed as rowdy and widely complained. At this time, the call " Kölle Alaaf " appeared - probably not for the first time - as a toast to the later King Friedrich Wilhelm IV of Prussia during his visit to Cologne in 1804. The Cologne-friendly king later remembered his Another visit in 1848 on the occasion of the start of the further construction on Cologne Cathedral and at the end of his address also called "Alaaf".

The bourgeoisie still celebrated foolish masked balls , but the street carnival was almost extinct. The Carnival in Cologne, which had been Prussian since 1815 after the French withdrew , was revived and organized in 1823 with the establishment of the “Festordnenden Comites”, increased by the component of criticism of the (foreign) authorities: a “cultural-political prank with a humorous one Ambience ".

Older forms were preserved, especially in Austria , Switzerland , Alsace , Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg . In Baden-Württemberg in particular, a distinction is made between carnival and Swabian-Alemannic carnival . After the carnival had established itself here towards the end of the 19th century, a return to the old forms was demanded after the First World War, which manifested itself in the establishment of the Association of Swabian-Alemannic Fools' Guilds in 1924.

While older carnivals in southwest Germany can still be found mainly in Catholic areas, a real carnival boom in the 1990s also introduced carnival in Protestant areas. Basel has a special status in Switzerland : the city celebrates an old, traditional carnival ( Basler Fasnacht ) despite the Protestantism that has prevailed for centuries . Even in Winterthur , the Winterthur Carnival was able to last despite the Reformation and the ban.

In other countries, Mardi Gras and Carnival could hardly establish themselves; many customs in England fell into oblivion due to the Reformation of Henry VIII , which therefore could not be consolidated in the United States and Canada . Québec and the formerly French and Catholic New Orleans are considered to be one of the few exceptions .

Origin and distribution of the term in the German-speaking area

Mardi Gras, Carnival

The word Fastnacht comes from Middle High German vastnaht (occupied since 1200 and meaning “the eve before Lent”, so since the Synod of Benevento 1091 the “Tuesday before Ash Wednesday”), from seam , “night, eve”, and belongs to Middle High German vaste from Old High German fasta , "the fasting, the fasting time", whereby there is the possibility that an adjustment to "fasting" is present if - fitting to forms like "Fasenacht" and "Faselabend" - Middle High German gossip , "flourish, be fertile" , Had influence.

Carnival and its modifications are mainly used in Hesse , Rhineland-Palatinate , Saarland , Franconia , Upper Lusatia , Baden-Württemberg , Bavarian Swabia , western Upper Bavaria , the Upper Palatinate as well as Luxembourg , Switzerland , Liechtenstein and Austria Federal state Vorarlberg and South Tyrol used.

In Hesse and Rheinhessen it is called Fas (s) enacht , in Franconia Fasenacht , in Switzerland and parts of Baden Fasnacht , in the rest of Baden as well as Württemberg and Bavarian Swabia Fasnet , regionally also F (a) asent and in Luxembourg Fuesend . Other linguistic expressions are Fosnet , Foaset and Fassend . In Low German-speaking countries it is called Low German , among other fastelavn  - this corresponds fastelavn in Protestant areas not what is commonly understood as Carnival. In the Cologne area is in the Kölsch dialect also Fastelov (v) end or Fasteleer used while you're there in High German only by Carnival speaks.

Folk etymologies soon establish a connection to the word barrel , soon (but more playfully) to “festival”, the babble or the expression “almost night”. The comparison of the dialect words, however, reveals a possible common basic form * fasanaht , which could refute these interpretations. The meaning of the fore limb fasa- remains unclear. Most likely a connection to an Indo-European verbal root * pwos- with the meaning 'clean, purify, fast', which would fit various elements of the tradition.


The term Fasching is mainly used in Bavaria , Austria and Saxony . The word Fasching appeared in High German as early as the 13th century, initially in the forms vaschanc and vaschang . Etymologically, it explains itself as a 'Lenten bar', i.e. the last serving of alcoholic beverages before the then still strict fasting period. This is also indicated by the Middle Low German form vastgang and the (late) Old Norse fostugangr for the beginning of Lent. The alignment with words ending in -ing is much more recent. The name can also be found in neighboring countries, as the Slovak word is Fašiangy . Special forms of customs are the carnival wedding and the begging wedding .

From Carnival spoken about in Nuremberg and Würzburg , with each 100,000 visitors have the biggest carnival trains in southern Germany, as well as throughout the region Franken , which includes parts of Baden-Württemberg, in Lower Bavaria and the southern Upper Palatinate , in the east of Upper Bavaria and Munich , so in the Bavarian language area and in Austria . The term Fasnat is used in Vorarlberg.

Fastelovend (Fasteleer)

In the northern Rhineland to the Lower Rhine, the High German carnival is called Fastelovend (fasting evening) or Fasteleer , with locally independent customs (Altweiber-Karneval = Aaalwiever-Fastelovend = small fasting evening) . Is celebrated by Thursday of about cloves Saturday and Monday before Lent until Shrove Tuesday .

The word vastavent appears in Cologne in the second half of the 12th century with reference to Lent; it has been on record since March 5, 1341 in a council resolution in which the Cologne councilors undertake not to “vastavende” any more from the city treasury “To give. Fasteleer is said to go back to a secondary form of Fastelovend, Fastelerum , which was common at the beginning of the 19th century .


The carnival is mainly related to the Rhenish carnival in the Cologne, Bonn, Aachen and Düsseldorf area. The fool , local patriotism and the mockery of the rulers since the beginning of the 19th century are of importance here . North of the Bonn-Erfurt line there are almost exclusively carnival clubs in Germany, but the event is also known as carnival in Saxony and Brandenburg.

Samba Carnival Bremen (2008)

In Germany, the term carnival can be traced for the first time at the end of the 17th century, in the Rhineland for the first time in 1728. "Carneval" first appeared in the Cologne city records around 1780.

The etymology of the word is not clearly established. From the middle of the 19th century until well into the 20th century , the thesis first published by Karl Simrock in 1855 dominated scientific publications that the word goes back to the Latin expression carrus navalis ('ship's cart'), which describes a ship on wheels, which had been taken through the streets during annual parades to restart shipping. The tradition of the ship of fools is said to have developed from this. This thesis has now been clearly refuted, especially since there is no evidence of the word combination carrus navalis (obviously a learned invention by Simrock) in either the relevant Latin source texts of Roman pre-Christian antiquity or those of the Middle Ages .

The most common assumption today is the derivation of the Middle Latin carne levare ('to take away meat'), from which carnelevale is used as the name for Lent as a meatless period. The translation of carne vale as meat is also joking , farewell! possible. This interpretation also corresponds to the Greek name of carnival as Apókriës ( Greek απόκριες), which also means something like 'meat away'.

Temporal course of the carnival


In many German-speaking countries , the beginning of the carnival period was or is originally Epiphany , January 6th.

Since the 19th century, the official opening of the carnival session has also taken place in many areas on November 11th , the “eleventh in the eleventh” from 11:11 am. The background to this is that shortly before Christmas , shortly after the festival was fixed in 354, there was a preparatory forty-day fasting period , similar to the Easter fasting period after Carnival. It began on November 11th, St. Martin's Day . The aim was to consume the food available that was not “suitable for Lent”, such as meat, fat, lard, eggs and dairy products. St. Martin's Day was also the end date of the farming year on which the lease was due and the servants changed.

The time from November 12th to January 5th remains largely carnival-free, even in the centers of carnival along the Rhine, which is explained by the aforementioned pre-Christmas Lent, the role of November as a month of mourning and the contemplative nature of Advent . To the extent that there is talk of a “forward shift” of the beginning of the carnival or a “season opening” on November 11th, this is at least misleading. In terms of the history of its origins, November 11th represents a second, "small" carnival.

However, especially in the surrounding area, more and more meetings are held during this time - even before November 11th - because then most of the performing artists are cheaper than in the main season, when they have many performances in one evening. The foolish time begins in January, especially in the strongholds, with the introduction of the new regents, the proclamation of princes.


Mardi Gras reaches its climax in the actual Mardi Gras week of the fat Thursday in the Swabian-Alemannic region (from Schmotz = lard, which refers to Carnival cakes baked in lard) or Weiberfastnacht in the Rhineland or Fat Thursday in the Harz region, in northern Thuringia and in southern Saxony. Anhalt over the cloves Saturday , tulips Sunday , carnival Monday until Shrove Tuesday , also known as Fat Tuesday. There are corresponding parades, especially on Rose Monday - whereby roses originally did not refer to the flower, but to the verb rasen .

Memorial for guard drummers in Mainz

The largest parades take place in the carnival centers of Cologne , Mainz and Düsseldorf. In terms of the number of participants, the move in Eschweiler is one of the largest in Germany. There are also annual moves in Aachen , Bonn , Duisburg , Dülken , Erkelenz , Euskirchen , Koblenz , Krefeld , Leverkusen , Meckenheim , Mönchengladbach , Rheinbach , Siegburg , Trier and many other places. But also further south, for example in Frankfurt am Main , Wiesbaden , Aschaffenburg , Mannheim , Ludwigshafen am Rhein , Obertiefenbach , Würzburg and Karlstadt, there are parades on Mardi Gras Sunday (earlier delivery of the carnival chicken ). These are called “Zoch” in the Rhineland ( D'r Zoch kütt - “The train is coming”, in Bavaria called “Gaudiwurm”).

In Karlsruhe and Stuttgart there are large parades with several hundred thousand visitors on Shrove Tuesday. The traditional Schoduvel in Braunschweig on Shrove Tuesday and the Carnival parade in Berlin are considered the largest parades in northern Germany .

In the neighborhoods, towns and villages around these centers there are parades on Saturday (Carnation Saturday), Sunday (Orchid or Tulip Sunday) and Tuesday (Violet Tuesday). The largest children's carnival procession in Europe has been taking place on Carnival Sunday in the Hamborn district of Duisburg for decades.

In Austria, most of the festive events and parades take place on the so-called carnival weekend, i.e. on Carnival Saturday and Carnival Sunday.

The End

Mardi Gras burn

Lent begins on Ash Wednesday. On the night of Ash Wednesday at midnight sharp, the carnival ends, and there is a tradition in many places that the carnivalists burn a straw doll, the so-called nubbel , on that night as the person responsible for all the vices of the carnival days. The wrongdoings or sins committed during the carnival season are placed on the nubbel so that they can no longer apply after the destruction. In some areas (e.g. in Cologne) this is accompanied by theatrical, artificial weeping. The so-called Hoppeditz is buried in Düsseldorf and the cities of the Lower Rhine such as Krefeld, Duisburg, Mönchengladbach, Kleve or Wesel . This was originally a typical Lower Rhine fool figure. This rascal or buffoon resembled Till Eulenspiegel and the medieval court jesters. It is reported that in the 18th and 19th centuries in the Lower Rhine it was the custom of the common people to walk through the streets and sing funny songs on Ash Wednesday night equipped with poles with sausages hanging on them.

In some places the carnivalists meet again on Ash Wednesday for a joint fish meal, for a ritual " wallet washing " or only now for an internal nubbel burning.

Mardi Gras date

The end of the carnival is Ash Wednesday. Its date depends directly on the location of Easter: In 325 at the Council of Nicaea, the date of Easter was set for the first Sunday after the spring full moon . Around 600, Pope Gregory the Great set a 40-day fasting period before Easter, which is intended to commemorate the time that Jesus Christ spent in the desert ( Mt 4 : 1–2  EU ). According to this regulation, Lent began on Tuesday after the 6th Sunday before Easter ( Invocavit or Dominica prima Quadragesimae , 1st Lent Sunday , in German also Funkensonntag ).

At the Synod of Benevento in 1091, the six Sundays before Easter were excluded from fasting. In order to still receive a 40-day fasting period, the beginning of the fasting period was moved forward by six days to today's Ash Wednesday, the Wednesday after the 7th Sunday before Easter. The length of a carnival session is therefore dependent on the moving date of Easter and is calculated according to the Easter formula. After that, Ash Wednesday is on the 46th day before Easter Sunday. The earliest possible Ash Wednesday date is February 4th, the latest possible is March 10th. So there are very short and very long sessions.

Deviating carnival dates

In some areas, both carnival dates , the old Burefasnacht ( farmers ' carnival , before Tuesday after Invocavit ) and the new men's or priest's carnival (before Ash Wednesday) existed side by side until the 16th century . In Baden and Switzerland in particular, many customs of the old carnival and the old date have been preserved. The best known is the Basel Carnival .

This begins on the Monday after Ash Wednesday at 4:00 a.m. with the Morgestraich and ends on the following Thursday morning, also at 4:00 a.m. Guggen music plays a role here. This context also explains why the date of the Protestant Basel Carnival - as is often written - in no way refers to the Reformation, but to the old date of the Carnival. During the Reformation, Carnival was never permanently abolished in Basel. In the German exclave Büsingen , the farmers' carnival is celebrated with a procession on the Sunday after Ash Wednesday.

In the area of ​​the Orthodox Churches , full fasting begins on the Monday after the 7th Sunday before Easter, and meat renunciation begins a week before. The Russian Butter Week , which is traditionally celebrated and large quantities of blini are eaten, is in between. Other Eastern European countries have similar customs. Since Easter in the East is often later than in the West - based on the western reform of the calendar - Mardi Gras is also postponed.

In Hollabrunn ( Lower Austria ), due to a vow of the citizenship from 1679 (renewed in 1803) and because the community was spared from the plague , since then there has been no celebration from Mardi Gras Sunday to Tuesday.

As "latest Carnival of the world" which is considered Gropp Fasnacht in Swiss Ermatingen on Lake Constance ( Canton Thurgau ), for it is only at the fast Sunday Laetare place :. It is the most traditional carnival in Eastern Switzerland . The high point of the “Groppenumzug” only takes place every three years.

Schedule overview

year Women's Shrovetide Carnival Sunday Carnival Monday Rose Monday (orthodox) Ash Wednesday Beginning of Carnival (Basel)
2013 February 7th February 10th February 11th March 18th 13th February February 18
2014 27th of February 2nd March 3 March 3 March 5. March March 10th
2015 February 12th February 15th February 16 February 23 February 18 February 23
2016 February 4th February 7th February 8 the 14th of March February 10th February 15th
2017 February 23 February 26th 27th of February 27th of February 1st March 6th March
2018 February 8 February 11th February 12th 19th of February 14th of February 19th of February
2019 February 28 3 March 4th of March March 11 6th March March 11
2020 20. February February 23 February 24th 2nd March February 26th 2nd March
2021 February 11th 14th of February February 15th March 18th February 17th February 22

regional customs

Spatial classification

The carnival takes place mainly in Catholic and, in a modified form, in Orthodox regions.


The main focus of the carnival in Germany are the Rhineland , Rheinhessen , South Hesse , the Münsterland , Lausitz , Franconia (especially in the region around Würzburg ) and Baden-Württemberg (without Altwürttemberg , see also Swabian-Alemannic Carnival ), as well as in Luxembourg Diekirch , Echternach and Remich , in Switzerland Basel and Lucerne , in the Netherlands Limburg and Noord-Brabant .

You mocked in Rheinhessen Mainz in the French occupation the occupiers, so they could turn the Rhine Cologne the Prussians unpunished verballhornt be that after the Congress of Vienna , the Rhineland and Westphalia had annexed.

In Austria, the carnival is called Fasching or Fasnacht . One of the oldest customs is bloch pulling in western Austria. These events do not take place every year, the Larchzieh'n in Ötztal and the Telfer "Schleicherlauf" only take place every five years during Carnival.

In Poland, Krakow and Kashubian Switzerland are carnival strongholds in the north of the country. In addition to costumes and numerous festive balls, an integral part of the celebrations was the preparation of particularly high-calorie meat dishes, sweets and baked goods in the run-up to Lent. In addition, young women used the carnival balls specifically to find men for marriage. The “ beheading of death(Ścięcie Śmierci) is one of the Masurian customs . Today the carnival is held with family rites and get-togethers, as well as costumed celebrations. In recent years, the costumed carnival has also reached the Polish capital, Warsaw .

Sunday, Cwarmê from Malmedy

In Belgium , the Carnival is Binche's most famous attraction . It was included in UNESCO's list of Masterpieces of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity in 2003. It is similar to the Alemannic carnival . The first move took place in 1395. Other strongholds are the German-speaking East Belgium and, occasionally, Flanders . In East Belgium there is the Eupen Carnival and the Cwarmê of Malmedy . The Cwarmê is another ancient and famous carnival (1458). Some places celebrate the carnival climax with a mid-fast parade, mostly on Sunday Laetare . The great procession of the "white monks" (Blanc-Moussis) in Stavelot , which has been taking place since 1502, is particularly well known .

In France , Carnival is celebrated in all major French cities such as Nice and Dunkerque and also in many small towns ( Granville , Hombourg-Haut ).

In Portugal , the carnival in coastal cities such as Loulé in the Algarve, around the canals of Aveiros or on Avenida 25 de Abril in Figueira da Foz is particularly well known. Brazilian-inspired samba groups increasingly dominate there. In the interior of the country, especially in the northeast with its Celtic roots, the original forms of carnival have remained, for example in the municipality of Podence .

Carnival centers on the Italian mainland are the carnivals in Venice , Florence and Rome , Viareggio and Fano as well as Acireale and Sciacca in Sicily .

In Russia , Ukraine and Belarus , an event related to Carnival, Maslenitsa , is celebrated in the week before the start of Orthodox Lent .

The Quarnevalen , a parade, has been celebrated annually in the Swedish capital Stockholm since 1910 .

In 1980 the Federation of European Carnival Cities (FECC) was founded in Patras , Greece. There is also a German-speaking section.

Outside of Europe

Carnival in Dili , East Timor (2013)

In South America, the strongholds of Carnival outside of Brazil include the Bolivian Oruro and the Colombian Barranquilla . In Central America, Carnival is celebrated in Antigua , Bahamas , Barbados , Cayman Islands , Dominican Republic , Guyana , Haiti , Cuba , Puerto Rico , Trinidad and Tobago as well as St. Kitts and Nevis . The most famous Mardi Gras in the US are the New Orleans Mardi Gras and Mobile ; in Québec (Canada) there is the winter carnival of Québec .

Since 1972 a carnival parade has been taking place in Marmarita, Syria , which was initiated by home tourists who emigrated to Brazil, on the evening before the Assumption of Mary , as emigrants like to visit their homeland during this time.

Similarly, the carnival in Namibia goes back to the German Namibians there, who initiated it in the 1950s based on the Rhenish model; it takes place in several places in the country at different times of the year. In Africa, larger carnival celebrations with a long tradition are held in the former Portuguese colonies, such as the carnival in Angola , Guinea-Bissau , Cape Verde (Creole, especially in Mindelo ) and Mozambique . In other places it was introduced in recent years to promote tourism, such as in Calabar (Nigeria) (2004), Cape Town (South Africa) (2010), Harare (Zimbabwe) (2014) or the Seychelles (2011)

The carnival parades in Goa, India and Dili in East Timor are also due to Portuguese influence . The celebrations in the latter are a very recent tradition. They were organized for the first time in 2010 by the East Timorese Ministry of Tourism , but were very well received by the population and reflect the variety of local music and dance groups that play in Dilis city center until dawn.

Culinary customs

Associated with Mardi Gras and Carnival are also customs related to certain dishes that are preferred or only enjoyed during this time. Shortly before Lent, these especially contain the ingredients that are prohibited during Lent. This applies not only to meat, but also to eggs and fat. The latter can also be derived from many names for carnival days: Fat Tuesday and Mardi gras , Martedi grasso or Fettisdagen (French or Italian or Swedish for Fat Tuesday).

On the one hand, fat refers to high-fat foods, where pork and bacon are particularly popular. On the other hand, on pastries that are fried in fat. Fried foods such as Berlin pancakes and donuts , which are mainly prepared sweet, are available internationally in different variations. Regional recipes with the same names can often be found, but the recipe is often similar. Another ingredient that is often found in carnival dishes are legumes, especially peas and beans, which are considered to be a sign of fertility (see also the custom of the pea bear ).

Traditional calls

Carnival includes calls for fools, with which the carnivalists greet each other or conclude hand-made speeches. Such calls for fools vary greatly from region to region in Germany. The best known and most widespread nationwide are “Helau” and “Alaaf”. Traditionally "Alaaf" is usually called in the Rhineland, but in Düsseldorf, on the Lower Rhine , in the Ruhr area and from Mainz and Würzburg south of "Helau". In Braunschweig, too, fools call out "Brunswick Helau". The Mainz team took over the reputation of "Helau" from Düsseldorf. In Westphalia, too, “Helau” is the common reputation, but regional specialties are also present here. During mask parades in southern Germany, mask wearers often shout "Narri". The audience at the roadside answers with "Narro". Numerous places in Germany and in the German-speaking neighboring countries have developed their own calls.

Legal issues

The mentioned carnival days are not considered to be public holidays , because the federal state holiday laws do not mention Rose Monday or any other carnival days. Then it must be clarified under labor law how it can come to a time off on those days. In many federal states, however, carnival holidays for school children are put around the carnival days.

So-called operational exercise is the fact that a regular repetition of a certain behavior by the employer may be understood by the employee in such a way that this behavior of the employer will also exist in the future or will be permanent. If in the past (at least three years) the employer has given employees leave of absence on Shrove Monday without any recognizable reservation, then the employees can trust that this leave of absence will continue to apply on Shrove Monday; the employer cannot, therefore, suddenly change his behavior by implication. This creates a legal bond that can only be lifted if the employees have given their consent or if changes have been made. If the employer wants to prevent the continuity of behavior from creating a bond that will affect the future, he must declare a corresponding reservation. On the other hand, there is no entitlement to leave from work based on regional customary law or customs.

For civil servants, however, there is no operational exercise because the granting of a leave of absence on Rose Monday is at the discretion of the employer.

If a judge has a court date on 11.11. at 11:11 a.m., it cannot be rejected as biased. A little joke is allowed.

Museums in Germany related to Carnival

The Cologne Carnival Museum

See also


  • Mikhail Bakhtin : Rabelais and his world. Folk culture as a counterculture . Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1987, ISBN 3-518-28787-7 .
  • Theodor Barth, Ute Behrend, Thekla Ehling, Dirk Gebhardt, Matthias Jung, David Klammer, Frederic Lezmi, Nadine Preiß, Wolfgang Zurborn (Eds.): Eleven eleven. Kettler, Dortmund 2014, ISBN 978-3-86206-337-6 .
  • Hildegard Brog: Whatever happens: D'r Zoch kütt! The history of the Rhenish carnival . Campus, Frankfurt am Main 2000, ISBN 3-593-36387-9 .
  • Carl Dietmar: Cologne myths - how the Cologne people tinker their truth (s). Kiepenheuer & Witsch, Cologne 2005, ISBN 3-462-03574-6 .
  • Christina Frohn: The organized fool. Carnival in Aachen, Düsseldorf and Cologne from 1823 to 1914, Jonas, Marburg 2000, ISBN 3-89445-269-2 (Dissertation University of Bonn 1999 Illustrated under the title: A great striving becomes praiseworthy if it is short and meaningful ) -
  • Hans Gapp: The great carnivals in Tyrol . Edition Löwenzahn, Innsbruck 1996, ISBN 3-7066-2135-5 .
  • Rolf Gisler-Jauch: Carnival Uri . Gisler, Altdorf 2005, ISBN 3-906130-32-0 .
  • Johannes Grabmayer (ed.): The kingdom of fools. Carnival in the Middle Ages. (= Series of publications by the Friesach Academy. NF 1). Klagenfurt 2009, ISBN 978-3-85391-000-9 .
  • Berthold Hamelmann: "Helau and Heil Hitler". Everyday history of Carnival 1919–1939 using the example of the city of Freiburg. (= Everyday Life & Province. Volume 2). Eggingen 1989, ISBN 3-925016-42-2 .
  • Wolfgang Herborn: The history of the Cologne Carnival from the beginning to 1600. (= publications of the Cologne City Museum. Volume 10). Hildesheim / Zurich / New York, NY 2009, ISBN 978-3-487-14209-8 .
  • Norbert Humburg: Urban carnival customs in West and East Falzes. Its development from the Middle Ages to the 19th century . 1976. ( full text as PDF )
  • Ruth Mateus-Berr: Carnival and Fascism. An example. Carnival parade in Vienna in 1939. Edited by Manfred Wagner . Praesens, Vienna 2007, ISBN 978-3-7069-0451-3 .
  • Michael Matheus (Ed.): Fastnacht / Carnival in European comparison. (= Mainz lectures . Volume 3). Franz Steiner, Mainz 1999, ISBN 3-515-07261-6 .
  • Werner Mezger: fool's idea and carnival custom. Studies on the survival of the Middle Ages in European festival culture . (= Konstanz library. Volume 15). Universitäts-Verlag Konstanz, Konstanz 1991, ISBN 3-87940-374-0 .
  • Werner Mezger: The big book of the Swabian-Alemannic carnival. Origins, developments and manifestations of organized foolishness in southwest Germany . Theiss, Stuttgart 1999, ISBN 3-8062-1221-X . (Habilitation University of Freiburg im Breisgau 1990)
  • Migros-Genossenschafts-Bund (Ed.): Festivals in the Alpine region. Migros-Presse, Zurich 1997, ISBN 3-9521210-0-2 .
  • Dietz-Rüdiger Moser: Mardi Gras, Mardi Gras, Carnival. The festival of the "upside-down world" . Edition Kaleidoskop, Graz 1986, ISBN 3-222-11595-8 .
  • Florens Christian Rang: Historical Psychology of Carnival. 2nd Edition. Edited by Lorenz Jäger. Brinkmann et al. Bose, Berlin 1983, ISBN 3-922660-08-8 .
  • Schweizerisches Idiotikon , Volume I: A – F. Huber, Frauenfeld 1881–1885, Col. 645–654, article Fasnacht ( digitized version ) (on German-Swiss customs in the past and the older present).
  • Martin Stotzer, Erich Maeschi, Gerhard Schneider, Markus Schär: Büre Nöijohr. About the history of the carnival in general and about the beginnings of the "Büre Nöijohr" - the first carnival of the year in Switzerland. Association for home care, Büren an der Aare 2000 ( publisher ).

Web links

Commons : Deutscher Karneval  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Carnival  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Carnival in Cadiz
  2. Wolfram von Eschenbach, Werke, ed. by Karl Lachmann, Berlin 5th ed. 1891, VIII. book in the 8th and 9th lines of the 409th verse.
  3. ^ Parzival - Book VIII. In: Augsburg University of Applied Sciences, accessed on April 22, 2020 .
  4. ^ History ( Memento from February 16, 2015 in the Internet Archive )
  5. Christoph Lehmann : Chronica of the Freyen Reichs instead of Speyr. Frankfurt am Main 1612, p. 658.
  6. ^ Helmut Bernhard , Franz Staab : History of the city of Speyer. Volume 1, Kohlhammer Verlag, Stuttgart 1982, ISBN 3-17-007522-5 .
  7. The people of Cologne have been crazy for 666 years. In: Kölnische Rundschau. January 21, 2007.
  8. ^ Ernst Weyden : Cologne on the Rhine fifty years ago, moral images together with historical references and linguistic explanations. (1862), reissued unchanged under the title Köln am Rhein one hundred and fifty years ago. Morals together with historical references and linguistic explanations and provided with an afterword by Max Leo Schwering, Greven Verlag, Cologne 1960, p. 137 and note 1, p. 199.
  9. ^ Ernst Weyden : Cologne on the Rhine fifty years ago, moral images together with historical references and linguistic explanations. (1862), reissued unchanged under the title Köln am Rhein one hundred and fifty years ago. Morals together with historical references and linguistic explanations and provided with an afterword by Max Leo Schwering, Greven Verlag, Cologne 1960, p. 137.
  10. Peter Fuchs, Max-Leo Schwering: Cologne Carnival. On the cultural history of Carnival. Greven Verlag, Cologne 1972, ISBN 3-7743-0089-5 , p. 8.
  11. ^ Friedrich Kluge , Alfred Götze : Etymological dictionary of the German language . 20th edition. Edited by Walther Mitzka . De Gruyter, Berlin / New York 1967; Reprint (“21st unchanged edition”) ibid 1975, ISBN 3-11-005709-3 , p. 186.
  12. a b
  13. The dictionary of origin of the German language. Bibliographical Institute, Mannheim 1993.
  14. In Franconia, one carnival procession chases the next ( memento from January 30, 2019 in the Internet Archive ) on, February 11, 2018
  15. Association of Vorarlberg Carnival Guilds and Guilds (VVF)
  16. Peter Fuchs, Max Leo Schwering: Cologne Carnival. On the cultural history of Carnival. Volume 1, Greven Verlag, Cologne 1972, ISBN 3-7743-0089-5 , p. 25.
  17. Landschaftsverband Rheinland, Institute for Regional Studies and Regional History: Mitmachwortbuch , accessed on December 11, 2012.
  18. ^ Aloys Winterling: The Court of the Electors of Cologne 1688–1794. A case study on the importance of “absolutist” court management. (= Publications of the Historical Association for the Lower Rhine. Volume 15). Bonn 1986, p. 161; Peter Fuchs, Max Leo Schwering: Cologne Carnival. On the cultural history of Carnival. Volume 1, Greven Verlag, Cologne 1972, ISBN 3-7743-0089-5 , p. 25.
  19. ^ Karl Simrock: Handbook of German mythology including the Nordic. (first 1855) 5th ed. Bonn 1878, pp. 369–376 and pp. 544–546.
  20. Basically Hellmut Rosenfeld: Fastnacht and Carnival. Name, story, reality. In: Archives for cultural history . Volume 51, 1969, pp. 175-181; Most recent summary of the state of research with numerous other references by Wolfgang Herborn: The history of the Cologne Carnival from the beginning to 1600. (= publications of the Cologne City Museum. Volume 10). Hildesheim / Zurich / New York 2009, here especially the appendix: The research history of the carnival before the Second World War - ways and wrong turns. ibid., pp. 124-144.
  21. ^ W. Herborn: Cologne Carnival. Pp. 139-140.
  22. Manfred Becker-Huberti : Celebrations, festivals, seasons. Living customs all year round. Herder-Verlag, Freiburg / Basel / Vienna 2001, ISBN 3-451-27702-6 , pp. 26–36.
  23. ↑ Calendar of events 2012/2013, accessed on November 6, 2013 ( )
  24. Festival Committee of the Cologne Carnival, Calendar 2012/13, accessed on November 6, 2013 ( ( Memento from November 5, 2013 in the Internet Archive ))
  25. Online magazine Oche-Alaaf, Calendar 2013/14, accessed on November 6, 2013 ( )
  26. Kluge: Etymological dictionary of the German language. 23rd edition. Berlin / New York 1999, p. 692: rose (d) monday .
  27. Google. Retrieved February 26, 2017 .
  28. ^ Wallet washing out in Meckenheim: 1st Carnival Society Merl 2000. ( Memento from April 5, 2014 in the Internet Archive )
  29. Ash Wednesday in, published by the Kreissparkasse Köln .
  30. Hollabrunn: Over 300 years without carnival, February 14, 2015.
  31. Groppen Carnival in Ermatingen on Lake Constance
  33. Schleicher, Wampeler and Matschgerer: Carnival in Tyrol . Travel EXCLUSIV magazine website, accessed January 8, 2015.
  34. Julian Mieth: Belgium's most famous carnival: jokes with bubbly . In: Spiegel Online . February 22, 2012.
  35. This is how Italy celebrates Carnival . Travel EXCLUSIV magazine website, accessed February 2, 2015.
  36. Publications of the FECC , accessed November 11, 2013.
  37. Roland Schulz: Carnival in Syria - Alaaf al Arabia! In: Spiegel online. February 7, 2011; First published in: GEO Special. 1/2011, Syria and Jordan .
  38. ^ Joel Samuel: Carnival: Guinea Bissau - West Africa - Documentary - Circa - 1995. On, accessed December 5, 2019.
  41. 10 Places to Celebrate Carnival in Africa , accessed November 18, 2019
  42. Seychelles Tourism Board: Carnival ( Memento from August 11, 2014 in the Internet Archive )
  43. National Geographic: Ten Places That Deserve More Travelers , June 9, 2016 , accessed August 7, 2016.
  44. Official German holiday calendar of the Standing Conference
  45. ^ Federal Labor Court, judgment of September 6, 1994, Az .: 9 AZR 672/92: Time off on Christmas Eve and Rose Monday.
  46. Bavarian Administrative Court, judgment of July 25, 2007, Az .: 17 P 05.3061 on Shrove Tuesday.
  47. ^ Higher Administrative Court of North Rhine-Westphalia, judgment of February 8, 1991, Az .: 1 B 335/91.
  48. Higher Regional Court Munich, decision of December 10, 1999, Az .: 26 AR 107/99.
  49. Cologne Carnival Museum - House of the Cologne Carnival - Cologneölner-karnevalsmuseum-köln-m960680.html
  50. ^ Aachen Carnival Committee : Central Carnival Archive and Museum ( Memento of January 24, 2008 in the Internet Archive ) (accessed on February 4, 2008).
  51. ^ Main committee Duisburger Carneval 1956 e. V.
  52. International Mask Museum
  53. Carnival Museum , accessed on March 8, 2020.