The ’5th season’ in Germany and Namibia

There has always been quite a variety of theories as to why Karneval traditionally starts on November 11th, but in this post we will simply focus on one of the most commonly accepted theories by Horst Bachmann who goes back to the Purssians’ orders of 1823, which demanded that the Karneval in the Rhineland had to be ‘properly organized’. In order to have sufficient time for everything involved in the organization process, January 6th was originally set as the starting date, which also matched perfectly with the Christian holiday Epiphany. This ,however, was always preceded by a 40-day fasting period, which was then extended to 56 by excluding weekends. Thus, Jan. 6th minus 56 days equals

November 11th.

Since ’11′ is considered a fool’s number, the German Karneval Season, notably in Cologne, Düsseldorf and Mainz, annually starts on November 11th at 11.11 a.m.

Today, there are 35 major so called ‘Karnevalsverbände’ all over Germany which still hold up  most of the traditions that were established as early as in the 13th century. These include the famous processions on huge decorated wagons, the nomination of ‘Karneval royals’ such as the Prince and Princess as well as old folk songs and dressing up in costumes.

In Namibia, this tradition has persisted through seven larger “Karnevals” that are organized throughout the year, the biggest ones taking place in Windhoek and Swakopmund.  Even though they are clearly smaller, they’re still holding up most of the German customs associated with this event, like the parades and the comedy sessions. However, it is “KüsKa” instead of “Helau” or “Alaaf” and the sound of the sea instead of marching music.

Also, due to the fact that November is the time of the year when summer temperatures in Namibia hit the highest point, the seven different Karnevals are celebrated all throughout the year, starting in March and ending in September.

Im Vergleich zu seinen rheinischen Vorbildern ist der Karneval in Swakopmund recht übersichtlich         


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