Friday, January 25, 2013

Getting ready, Easter edition

Even though we're barely off of Christmas, here in southern-ish Germany it's time to prepare for a new holiday: Carneval.

Like the New Orleans celebration of similar pronunciation and spelling, Carneval marks the time just before the beginning of Lent and therefore the lead-up to Easter. Most people don't go vegetarian for Lent anymore, but several cities in Germany (Cologne and Mainz, for example) still make a bit deal out of Carneval excess and everyone gets very drunk. I think the German version includes fewer topless women and plastic beads, but that could be wrong. No intentions of finding out.

The pub/bar up the street from me has decorated its windows in preparation for Carneval. The decorations are meant for inside and these pictures are taken from the outside, but I think the clowns are easy to make out.

Lurking in the window...

...the windows themselves are really quite lovely.

One clown head, two clown head, red clown head, blue clown head.
Turns out that clowns are a very typical thing to see around Carneval, so the cafe near my school also has a little niche with clown decorations. Creepy. (I'm told that when I was young I started crying around clowns. I think my toddler self was on to something.)

I've confused a number of people asking about Carneval, since Germany also has a celebration called Carneval that beings at 11:11am on November 11 every year and goes through January. That Carneval seems to have little connection to the Easter/Lent Carneval (though maybe it is connected, sources vary) and every time I've asked its beginnings or what it celebrates, I get the very helpful answer of "It's Carneval" and a shoulder-shrug. In addition, I've gleaned that in Cologne the November Carneval is considered a fifth season of the year, right between winter and...winter. So there you go.

As a side note, this continues to be the view from my window:

Notice both the construction equipment and the snow
 So much for the early assurances that the Rhine gives us a temperate climate. Both Saturday and Sunday look to be below freezing yet again, and the weather forecast is for "partly cloudy, possible ice in the mornings". Brr.

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