Karneval, the most festive time in Germany, traditionally begins on November 11th with the crowning of the Prinzenpaar, although the main Karneval season is traditionally between Christmas and Lent with the main events being held within the two weeks prior to Ash Wednesday. America’s Mardi Gras, Brazil and Italy’s Carnival, and Germany’s Karneval season all coincide with the original idea of living it up right before Lent begins. Even today, in some areas of Germany, towns will basically shut down for 4 or 5 days in a row before Ash Wednesday, to take to the streets, bars, and events to party. Learn more about Karneval history here.
The Crowning of the Prinz
It is customary for the Rheinischer Verein to elect a Prinz to reign over the festivities of the Karneval season. A new Prinz is elected each Karneval and is crowned at the beginning of the season, which officially begins November 11th, at 11:11 in the evening. He then officiates over all Karneval celebrations of Rheinischer Verein Chicago. In addition, he may choose to have a Prinzessin and an entourage of people that will help both the Prinz and Prinzessin during their reign.
Weiberfasching or Weiberfastnacht
Weiberfastnacht, traditionally the “Ladies Night Out”, emphasized the true spirit of Karneval and the rejection of authority; whether it be political or gender based. This tradition began 185 years ago with a group of washerwomen in the small town of Beuel that lies along the banks of the Rhine River. Fed up with working while the men were off celebrating Karneval, the washerwomen decided it was their turn to throw in the towel and raise a glass or two. In 1824, they founded a Beuel women’s carnival committee, which still exists today. From the streets and the pubs, the washerwomen brought their movement to the town hall, forcibly taking the key to the city as a symbol of their newly found power and freedom. Today women are encouraged to gallivant about cutting off any man’s tie that was in arms reach or kissing whoever they fancied to show the spirit of female independence. More recently men have been welcomed to join in, as long as they dress like a woman. So men, be alert to either a pair of scissors or a set of lips coming your way!
Kappenabend, otherwise known as “Crazy Hat Night” (Fetzige Mütze Abend) is another way to celebrate before the finale of Karneval. Revelers are inspired to wear their wackiest cranial adornment, whether it be bought or as cleverly designed as the wearer can come up with. The German community hosts several Kappenabend events to help continue the celebration of Karneval Gemütlichkeit with good friends, good food, and good drink.
Karneval’s most festive night, our Maskenball, is a sight to behold. Come as you are or come as someone else; come to enjoy a night of dining, drinking and dancing in Germany’s heritage. With lively entertainment ranging from the Amazonen Dancers to traditional and some not-so traditional music, all hosted by the annually appointed Prinz and Prinzessin, the Maskenball highlights the best of Karneval. Parade through the night and compete to win first prize in the costume contest. Come experience Germany’s Gemutlichkeit and we look forward to celebrating with you soon!
Rosenmontag (Rose Monday), acts the grand finale of Germany’s Karneval season and beginning of Lent. Germans throughout the county, and specifically Köln, host parades where sweets (Kamelle) are thrown into the crowds lining the streets among cries of “Helau” or “Alaaf.” Elaborate costumes, floats, and jubilation flood the country and it is our pleasure to share in the fun here in America. Hosted at the D.A.N.K. Hall on Western Avenue in Chicago this event is where the most spirited of Karneval revelers enjoy the final hurrah. The name “Rosenmontag”, derives from “rasen montag” to rave or rage or “live-it-up Monday!” And, live it up we do!
Frȕschoppen! Germany’s favorite term for getting together with friends to enjoy good food and drink. Originally a brunch with the community, our Frȕschoppen event integrates the German Spirit with the American pub-crawl tradition. Throughout the day a chartered bus will tour us to the best of Chicago’s German establishments and ends at a favorite German establishment in Chicago for a finale celebration. The Reinischer Verein community loves hosting these events as a way to appreciated the best that German culture has to offer while raising awareness to the German-Chicago community. Price of admission covers transportation and a beverage of your choice at each establishment. We looking forward to sharing Frȕschoppen with you soon!