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High Five

5 German Carnival traditions with surprising origins

Germany is celebrating its so-called "fifth season" with more than a few odd customs, many of which date back centuries. Here are five such traditions, including snipped ties and men dressed up as virgins.

In Cologne, the prince, the peasant and the virgin hold sway for the entire Carnival season, and are on tour for weeks at parades and parties. They are always portrayed by men, even the virgin, with his long dress, blonde tresses, lipstick and rouge.

But why? Aren't there plenty of attractive women in Cologne who would play the role much more convincingly?

Always a man

Is this another form of discrimination against women? To a certain degree, yes, because Carnival in its organized form has always been the domain of men.

The Carnival associations that cast the trinity are still men's clubs. Since the very first performance in 1823, the virgin has always been and will always be played by a man.

There have only been two exceptions: in 1938 and 1939, the role was played by a woman as the Nazis were very uncomfortable with a man dressing up in women's clothes. After World War II, the virgin was played by a man once again.

Click through the gallery above to find out more about other odd German Carnival traditions. And check out the gallery below for a look at the Rose Monday parades.

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