20200224 COLOGNE/GERMANY


Carnival begins 5,000 years ago in Mesopotamia
Forerunners of the carnival were celebrated in Mesopotamia around 5,000 years ago. Even then, there was the idea of the principle of equality during the celebrations. For a short time, workers and rulers were on the same level – this principle is still part of the carnival today. In the Middle Ages, from around the 12th to the 16th century, feasts of fools were celebrated around January 6, during which church rituals were also parodyed.

„Carnival“ means „meat – farewell“
The oldest known literary mention of the „fasnaht“ can be found in Wolfram von Eschenbach’s „Parzival“. The term „Vaschanc“ also appeared in the 13th century in southern Germany and in the Bavarian-Austrian region.

“Carnival” has been attested since the 17th century, but its word history remains unclear. Today’s most common explanation refers to Lent as meatless time and sees the origins of the term carnival in the Latin „carne vale“ („meat – goodbye“).

Avoid alcohol and sweets during Lent
At carnival, people say goodbye to meat because meat was previously avoided in the 40 days of Lent. According to a study by a health insurance company, half of the Germans still intend to forego luxury foods. Many people leave their cars at home for 40 days, without social media or plastic.

The first triumvirate in Cologne dates back to 1870
„Fastelovend“ is documented for the first time in the so-called Eidbuch of the city of Cologne from 1341. The Cologne farmer was first mentioned in a poem in 1422. As the embodiment of the city’s founder Agrippina, the Cologne virgin was documented for the first time in 1570 at the farmer’s side.

Since 1823, the so-called „Held Carneval“ has been at the top of the Cologne Carnival. From 1871 the hero became the Prince Carnival. The Cologne triumvirate was complete. Officially „triumvirate“ was the first time in 1938.

In an attempt to maintain public order, carnival celebrations in Cologne have been banned several times over the centuries. The Reformation was also critical of pre-Easter Lent. As a result, many customs in Protestant regions were sometimes forgotten.
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