This is a week that the Rhineland in which I have stranded has been anticipating. Between this Thursday morning and Ash Wednesday, the region is transformed by daily partying complete with costumes, copious amounts of alcohol and parades.
Today, on Weiberfastnacht [Women’s Day], the Carnival starts. Cologne and Düsseldorf happen to be two very famous centers of this party. It is a time of wild celebrations with parades and costume balls and hand-made costumes, and pranks of all sorts. Even though it is not a public holiday, you have to expect all kinds of interruptions of public life today, doctors’ practices close, not all shops are open and craftsmen don’t answer the phone. You see people dressed as chicken or proudly walking in the fool’s cap, restaurants announcing their menus with paper streamer decoration, and everyone is in such a – Helau! – good mood.
And then there’s me. I had early on understood that in terms of Dizzle Carnival, there is only two options: fight or flight. As I wanted to show a will for integration, I decided not to flee the town. (I used to be very good at integrating into the weirdest traditions in Sweden, just ask the people who celebrated Valborg with me in Uppsala.)
I was born on Carnival Monday, after all. I was even planning to make a costume and go to Cologne. But then the Berlin event at work took up all of my energy to an extent that made me sick with a cold from Monday on. With the Dizzle-typical constant rain falling outside, I can’t get myself to be all cheerful and I am reluctant to put my health to the test. (Why did people settle here in the first place? It rains 300 of 365 days?!) All technical things at our office also decided to go on Carnival break so I spent most of the day trying to fix the internet or the printer.
So it will a curtate Carnival for me, if any at all. Let’s hope for a steadier health and humor next year.