German Carnival cancelled but handful of jesters defy lockdown

Cologne (dpa) – A day traditionally filled with streets parties and tomfoolery went ahead largely like any other Monday in lockdown, as Germany’s Carnival season fell victim to the pandemic.

The customary large parades were cancelled on Rosenmontag, or Rose Monday, for the first time in years.

The last time this happened in Dusseldorf and Mainz was in 2016, when the parades were called off due to gale-force winds. In Cologne, the parade hasn’t been cancelled since 1991, when it was called off due to the Gulf War.

In the areas where it is celebrated, Germany’s Carnival is wildly popular, prized as the best festival of the year by far.

Carnivalists, as fans are known, usually spend the days before Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of Lent, in merry-making, as people ditch the rules, make fun of authority, dress up in costume and drink like there is no tomorrow.

In the south-western town of Rottweil, around 25 jesters did defy the lockdown by going ahead with their traditional “fools’ jump.”

At 8 am (0700 GMT) on the dot, their hooting and cracking of whips rang out as they marched and hopped through the Black Gate in the medieval town centre. This attracted some 450 spectators, despite freezing-cold temperatures, according to the police.

The spectacle was a far cry from the thousands-strong spectacle of previous years.

Police spokesman Christoph Bechthold said the jesters largely stuck to social-distancing rules and wore masks, adding that officers decided not to intervene.

It was not deemed appropriate to “use a sledgehammer to crack a nut,” he said, explaining the decision to leave them be.

Less rebellious fans of Carnival will have to make do with the celebration on television.

In Cologne, in a small nod to the season, regional broadcaster WDR will air a miniature Rose Monday parade in the form of a puppet show.

A 32-metre-long backdrop of the city’s old town has been erected in the wagon building hall of the Cologne Carnival Festival Committee.

Some revellers did defy rules over the weekend in the western city, with 111 people facing fines of up to 250 euros (303 dollars) for gathering in private rooms and public spaces, authorities said.


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