In Germany’s capitals of carnival the annual festivities got underway on Thursday – this time under heightened security, and under stormy clouds. But the revelers didn’t let that dampen their spirits.
Revelers began partying in the streets on Fat Thursday. It’s tradition on this first day of carnival week for women to cut off their husbands’ and boyfriends’ ties as a symbol of male power.
The next few days will be an extravaganza of thrills, spills and fancy dress costumes. Cologne is probably Germany’s best-known hub of carnival activity, with festivities being opened at 11.11 a.m. on Thursday by the traditional triumvirate of prince, peasant, and maiden. In nearby Dusseldorf the stars of the show were a crowd of “elderly ladies” who stormed city hall. In Mainz, too, it’s a similar scenario on “Weiberfastnacht” – women’s carnival night.
Partying is a less ostentatious affair in southern Germany. Down here, people don wooden masks and dress up as devils or witches.
In Konstanz, things got going on Wednesday evening with a procession of 2,500 masked participants. Later on “Dirty Thursday”, as the day is known down south, school pupils in white nightgowns and pointed caps paraded through the old town.
Security was stepped up this year in response to last December’s terrorist attack in Berlin. In Cologne and Dusseldorf the police put officers with machine guns on the streets, and erected security barriers. In Mainz the authorities warned partygoers against dressing up as terrorists or wearing fake suicide belts.
The weather failed to play ball this year. Storm alerts were issued for Thursday afternoon and evening. Some cities had to shorten their carnival programs. In Bonn a party in the center of town was cancelled due to a storm warning.
Elisabeth Yorck von Wartenburg / fm / cd (mit dpa)