The Cologne Carnival begins on November, but the real "crazy days" do not start before the Weiberfastnacht (Shrove Thursday), the Thursday before Rosenmontag (Carnival Monday).
The "crazy days" of Carnival are celebrated with parties on the streets, in public squares and in pubs. Closing times for pubs and bars are suspended for the duration of the festival.
Traditionally the gathering of the colourful Corps troops can be seen on Saturday at the Neumarkt. On Carnival Sunday school groups and borough parades take place all over the city. But the highlight of the street carnival is Rose Monday with the march of "Cologne's Dreigestirn" or Triumvirate - the Prince, the Peasant and the Maiden - in the kilometre-long Rosenmontag procession going through the city. Carneval ends two days later on Ash Wednesday.
Women's Carnival Day
This is the day when you get to experience the Carnival in its traditional form. Early in the morning, the streets are alive with ladies in fancy-dress on their way to the office, their place of work or to shops, and from 10.00 a.m. they all head towards the Alter Markt.
Every region has its own characteristics, the Rhinelander being no exclusion. But the people of Cologne are a "nation" of their own kind. As an ancient Roman city Cologne was home to a population in which the characteristics of many races were united in a successful "Gemölsch" (blend). The city grew to be Germany's largest trading metropolis in the Middle Ages with an influx of merchants, bargees, craftsmen and pilgrims over the course of the centuries. That was the basis of the Rhineish tolerance for his fellow men. Furthermore, as a leading congress and trade fair city, Cologne is accustomed to dealing with foreigners.
Cosmopolitan, open-minded, friendly are characteristics describing people from Cologne. However, the "Kölner" are known to be a rather superficial and making friends may take some time. The population of the city on the Rhine, is made up of "Kölner" and "Kölsche". Kölner are people who live here, Kölsche are those who where born here and in whose veins the pulse of this city can be felt. On occasions, you may only require a couple of hours in a cheerful round to become a genuine "Kölsche". Some people, however, will never learn. That makes it clear that to truly understand the Kölsche one first has to understand their attitude towards life.
Not every wild-looking figure you see during Carnival period is really as exotic as he may appear, even if his language may sound a little strange to you. The chances are good that he or she is a local resident in fancy dress. Do not despair if you do not understand the Kölner right away; Kölsch is regarded as one of the strangest dialects and, incidentally, is the only language you can also drink ("Kölsch" being the name for the dialect and the local beer as well). Anyway, words are not everything during Carnival, the right gesture is equally important. The language of "Fasteleer" is international.
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