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Rosenmontag 2018: What is it and how is it celebrated?

Things to know about the German tradition.


Carnivals are celebrated by countries all across the world, but in Germany, they are marked by a different tradition, and they take on different names in different parts of the country (Rosemontag, Fasching, Karneval, Fastnacht).

Below what we know about it:

When and what is Rose Monday?

  • Rose Monday (Rosenmontag) is one of the biggest celebrations of the German carnival, and it is marked before Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent for many Christians.  
  • Rose Monday is also celebrated in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Belgium, but it has a stronger presence in predominately Catholic Rhineland (an area in Western Germany), particularly in Cologne, Bonn, Dusseldorf, Aachen and Manz.
  • The history of carnival can be traced back to Germanic tribes celebrating the return of daylight and warmth, as Christianity became popular, the celebrations continued prior to Lent, the period of fasting before Easter. The first modern parade took place in Cologne. 

What does it have to do with roses?

  • The name for the carnival comes from the German dialect word roose meaning 'frolic' and Montag meaning Monday. 
  • It was also originally used for the fourth Monday of lent because the pope traditionally consecrated a rose the Sunday before. 

How is it celebrated?

  • Every town hosts a parade complete with floats, while the participants dress up in traditional costumes. 
  • The floats generally make a mockery of German habits, and they carry figures up to seven meters, and the often represent recent events or taboo subjects in a satirical way. 
  • Political satire has also become a tradition with people singing songs that are critical of recent events, or floats. The parade has criticised Angela Merkel, Donald Trump, Kim Jong Un and even the Catholic church. 
  • Shouts of  "Alaaf!"  (may he live well) and "Helau!" (a call representing the fun of job) fill the streets until the next day. 

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