What is Weiberfastnacht? Women Kick off Karneval!
Karneval or Fasching Season is loaded with parties, parades and fun events. But one special event sticks out… especially for Women! Weiberfastnacht. What is Weiberfastnacht? It’s the start of street Karneval Celebrations! The day when Karneval kicks into high gear! and… it’s a special day for Women to take over!
In 2019 I arrived in Köln on Weiberfastnacht. The city was packed with costumed people celebrating the biggest party I had ever seen!
Let me tell you more….
In 2020, Weiberfastnacht is on February 20th.
What is Weiberfastnacht??
The Thursday before Ash Wednesday, Weiberfastnacht, is an un-official holiday in the Rhineland… and the official beginning of the Street Festival part of Karneval. At 11:11 am, most businesses close, and people take to the streets in costume, and parades begin.
But where does the Weiber (Women) part come in?
In 1824 in Beuel, a part of Bonn, a group of washer women formed their own Karneval committee. It seems they were tired of doing laundry while everyone else was celebrating Karneval… so, they stormed the Town Hall and took over the city government. (Now remember…Karneval is a time when government officials are openly caricatured… and a mock government is elected). Today, this “storming of the Beuel Town Hall” by women is shown live on Television… and the takeover of government by women is copied all over North Rhine Westphalia. Women also gather up in groups wearing costumes or masks for a little crazy fun.
Lt. Col. Michelle Garcia, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Europe District deputy commander, playfully cuts the tie of David Leach, USACE North Atlantic Division programs director. Photo from FLickr commons- courtesy of USACEThen let the party begin!
Cologne is the epicenter for Karneval parties and celebrations in Germany!
When is Weiberfastnacht?
In 2020, Weiberfastnacht is on February 20th. Weiberfastnacht also known as “unsinniger Donnerstag” (silly Thursday) or “schmutzigen Donnerstag” (dirty Thursday…. in this case the “dirty” refers to sin) falls on the Thursday before Ash Wednesday, and is the last week of “fun” before the austerity of Lent Season.
Still, I never felt that it was unsafe… there is a strong police presence keeping an eye on everyone… and moving people along.
Women Take over the Rathaus (City Hall) In Beuel
It’s a fun staged event… nice to see everyone playing along.
Celebrating Weiberfastnacht in Cologne!
Got your Scissors?
These German dressmaking scissors will slice right through the ugliest of ties….