Episode 8 - Carnival in Germany

How to talk about carnival in English

2024-02-11 24 min

Description & Show Notes

In this episode we talk about:

  • Birgit’s experience as a Carnival reveller, aka “Jeck” in the Rhineland/Cologne dialect.
  • what happens on the particular days over Carnival – (Weiberfastnacht) Women’s Carnival Day*, Rose/Shrove Monday & Tuesday, Ash Wednesday. *other translations according to the online dictionary https://www.dict.cc/ are “Fat Thursday” and “Thursday before Shrove Tuesday”.
  • Rebecca shares a bit about the history of Carnival.
  • Which carnival cheer to shout in the various places e.g. in Cologne they shout “Alaaf”?
  • Dave's advice on Carnival in Cologne.
  • Top 20 cool must-know Carnival words (see the list below)
  • How to create stories to practice new vocabulary in ChatGPT. (See the text below: “Alex in Cologne over Carnival”)

In dieser Episode sprechen wir über:

  • Birgits Erfahrungen als Karnevalistin, auch bekannt als "Jeck" im rheinisch-kölnischen Dialekt.
  • was an den einzelnen Tagen über Karneval passiert - (Weiberfastnacht) Weiberfastnacht*, Rosenmontag & -dienstag, Aschermittwoch
  • Rebecca erzählt ein bisschen was über die Geschichte des Karnevals.
  • Welcher Karnevalsruf wird an den verschiedenen Orten gerufen, z.B. in Köln wird "Alaaf" gerufen?
  • Daves Tipps für den Karneval in Köln.
  • Die 20 coolsten Karnevalswörter, die du kennen musst (siehe Liste unten)
  • Wie man Geschichten erstellt, um neue Vokabeln in ChatGPT zu üben. (Siehe den Text unten: "Alex in Köln über Karneval")
Top 20 carnival words
1. Karneval:The German term for carnival, often used interchangeably with "Fasching" or "Fastnacht" depending on the region.
2. Fasching: Carnival season, especially used in Southern Germany, Austria, and parts of Bavaria.
3. Fastnacht: Another term for carnival, commonly used in regions like Swabia and parts of Hesse.
4. Jecken: Carnival revelers or enthusiasts who actively participate in the celebrations.
5. Rosenmontag: Rose Monday, the highlight of the carnival season, marked by parades and festivities across the country.
6. Faschingsdienstag: Shrove Tuesday or Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday, signaling the end of the carnival season.
7. Kamelle: Sweets, candies, or small treats thrown from parade floats to the crowd.
8. Helau: A common carnival exclamation, especially in Rhineland, expressing enthusiasm and joy.
9. Alaaf: Another traditional carnival cheer, frequently used in regions like Cologne.
10. Büttenreden: Humorous and satirical speeches delivered during carnival, often poking fun at political figures and current events.
11. Prinzenpaar: Carnival prince and princess, often elected to lead the festivities in various cities.
12. Funkemariechen: Young female dancers, often part of the carnival performances and parades.
13. Kappensitzung: A traditional carnival session featuring skits, dances, and entertainment.
14. Maskenball: Masked ball, where participants wear costumes and masks during carnival celebrations.
15. Kostüme: Costumes worn by carnival-goers, ranging from traditional to creative and humorous outfits.
16. Narrenkappen: Fool's caps, distinctive hats worn by carnival revelers.
17. Narrenfreiheit: The "fool's freedom," allowing people to engage in playful and mischievous behavior during carnival.
18. Gilden: Carnival guilds or groups that organize and participate in various carnival events.
19. Stadtprinz: City prince, a title given to the elected representative of the carnival in a particular city.
20. Narrenschar:The assembly of fools, referring to the collective participants and attendees of carnival festivities.


Alex in Cologne carnival
Once upon a time, in the vibrant city of Cologne, a curious British individual named Alex found themselves in the midst of a colorful spectacle – the legendary Carnival. It all began on Altweiber Thursday, a day that marked the beginning of the revelry.
Eager to immerse in the festivities, Alex decided to explore the city. The streets were filled with a contagious energy as jecken, adorned in elaborate costumes, greeted each other with a spirited "Helau!" Alex, not to be outdone, picked up the tradition with enthusiasm, immersing themselves in the cheerful atmosphere.
As Altweiber unfolded, Alex witnessed the lively tradition of women storming the city halls, taking over the symbolic key and thus temporarily claiming the role of power. Laughter echoed through the streets as ties were playfully snipped off by women, a gesture symbolizing a brief role reversal.
The days leading up to Rosenmontag were a whirlwind of excitement. Alex found themselves attending a Kappensitzung, where Büttenreden entertained the crowd with satirical humor. The sound of Narrenkappen being tossed into the air added to the joyous chaos. Amidst the laughter, Alex couldn't help but appreciate the Narrenfreiheit – the freedom to be a little foolish during these festive days.
Rosenmontag, the grand crescendo of Carnival, arrived with a burst of color and music. Alex joined the massive parade, marveling at the elaborate floats adorned with Kamelle. The air was filled with the infectious tunes of marching bands, and the streets were a sea of waving flags. Alex even caught a few glimpses of the Prinzenpaar, the Carnival royalty, gracefully leading the procession.
The excitement reached its peak as Nübelverbrennung, the symbolic burning of a straw figure named Nübel, took place. This tradition symbolizes the end of the revelry and the beginning of Lent. Amidst the fiery glow, Alex felt a mix of nostalgia and satisfaction, having experienced the heart and soul of Cologne's Carnival.
As the last embers of Nübelverbrennung faded away, Alex couldn't help but reflect on the unforgettable experience. The vibrant costumes, the lively parades, and the sense of unity among the jecken – it was a Carnival journey that would forever be etched in their memory. And so, with a heart full of Helau and Alaaf, Alex bid farewell to Cologne, carrying the spirit of Carnival back to the shores of the United Kingdom.



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2024 - Rebecca Deacon, Dave Preston, Birgit Kasimirski