Two weeks ago, Annette, Rani, Mamta and I attended Karneval in Bonn with Annette’s sisters and their families. In Germany, Karneval is celebrated most enthusiastically in areas of the country that have historically been Catholic. The state of North Rhine-Westfalia (“NRW”) where Bonn is located is the epicenter of Karneval celebrations in Germany. Annette’s sister Susanne lives in Bonn with her husband Mortiz (a “Bonner”) and their three children. Since Annette had lived in NRW during her high school years, she was familiar with the Karneval celebrations there, and was enthusiastic about our experiencing them as a family.
Karneval has its roots in Christian traditions leading up to Easter. The celebrating begins in earnest on “Fat Thursday,” the Thursday preceding Ash Wednesday. Six days of uninhibited excess end with Lent, a period of fasting and renunciation. Rhinelanders take the partying seriously: the celebrations typically begin at work on Thursday, and most employees are not expected to return to work until the following Wednesday. Each day parades are held throughout the region, with the largest being in Cologne on Rosenmontag — Rose Monday.
We traveled to Bonn on Friday afternoon, and returned to Berlin late Sunday evening. What we found at Karneval was an energetic mash-up of Halloween, New Year’s Eve and Spring Break. Continue reading