The carnival in Cologne is one of the most unrestrained in Europe and is in sharp contrast with German work ethics.
Every year, it begins at the end of February/beginning of March; a year of meticulous preparations reaches its climax with three crazy days which are in fact practically six. The events begin with the Weiberfastnacht, the Thursday before Ash Wednesday, the day on which women take full control on the city (they do things like cut their male collegues or bosses’ ties). Celebrations continue throughout the weekend with more than fifty parades; parties which are official and spontaneous wherever you look and half – crazy people dancing around the city dressed up in strange costumes. The height of the celebrations comes with the great parade of Rosenmontag (Rose Monday).
At this point the city has completely lost all control! Those who are still on their feet and can sing have their last fling on Shrove Tuesday and then with Ash Wednesday the curtain is lowered until the following year.
“If you are at the parade, looking at it, then you aren’t really at it” say the inhabitants of Cologne in their inimitable way. This means that if you are so involved in singing, drinking, shouting ‘ALAAF’ and smacking (Bütchen) kisses on other people’s cheeks, then you won’t notice what else is going on around you. Drinking in a crowded pub or following other in costume behind a big brass drum going who knows where, you can partecipate in one of the last completely innocent festivals which still exist in the world today.