Carnival in Aachen Celebrating life, the world and everything
Once a year Aachen cuts its ties with reality. Hey, it’s Carnival! A major celebration with colourful costumes, the buzz of parties and tongue-in-cheek military band music.
- A real character, Leonhard Kann proudly sported numerous carnival and local society medals
- Lennet used to thank people for buying him drinks by doing a military march in a drunken state!
- Lennet Kann was known outside the area too. He enjoyed such cult status that the song was written about him even during his lifetime
- Leonhard Kann died in 1916
All played out in marquees, street parades and the many bars of our city. On the first of this six-day extravaganza leading up to Ash Wednesday, no man’s tie is safe as the ladies (and their scissors) assert their inborn superiority. Even the lord mayor is forced to hand over the reins of power. Carnival, you see, is also a season for Aachen people to poke fun at the big-wigs – and themselves too.
The roots of what’s known as the “fifth season of the year” go back a long way. Cold winter is shoo-ed out amid a turmoil of colour and noise, Christians bid farewell to meat before Lent (lat. carne vale), and the area’s former powers of occupation are parodied by military marches, wigs, uniforms and bayonets.
In Aachen carnival is celebrated differently
Carnival is celebrated all over the Rhineland, but in Aachen so many things are done just that bit differently: here the first day of Carnival is not called “Old Wives’ Day”, as elsewhere, but “Fat Thursday”, the traditional naughty-but-nice doughnut is referred to as a “Puffel” (not “Berliner”, as elsewhere in Germany), sweets thrown to the crowd from the floats are not called “Bonbons” but “Klümpchen” (little lumps), and what is known elsewhere as “Karneval” is actually referred to in Aachen as “Fastelovend”. Aachen even has its very own Carnival figure, a lanky old beggar named Lennet Kann, one of the city’s “characters” from ages past, now prized as Aachen’s most handsome man. You see, Öchers don’t take themselves too seriously either! This “mickey-taking” is a common theme in a lot of the carnival songs, many of them sung in local dialect and, er, not for tender ears.
But away from the Madding crowds, Carnival has another face too – the alternative “Strunxsitzung” carnival which began 15 years ago featuring not a Carnival Prince but “Mayonisität und Freifritte”, a noble-sounding play on words meaning little more than “free chips and mayo” and whose name is a malodorous play on “Prunksitzung”, the full-regalia soirée. It has now attained cult status. Everything’s that bit louder, more sarcastic and “in your face”, with adventuresome costumes casting convention to the winds and where, as the Strunx anthem has it (again parodying the traditional Carnival fanfare), there are no “ta-ta-taboos”.
Anyone who has ever shaken off their inhibitions and shimmied their way in costume down the streets of our city will tell you, in the words of the unofficial anthem of Aachen: whether in streets or in seats, whether traditional or alternative, “Every one of us is an Öcher kid”.
A much-loved metropolis
New York, London, Paris, Munich? Born not in the Big ...
The floodlights go on, a sea of black-and-yellow flags appears ...
A Christmas wonderland
Snowflakes fall from the sky, the smell of roast chestnuts ...
Aachen’s a sweet place. Sweet little shops, sweet little pedestrian ...
Shop till you drop
Shopping often brings love at first sight. Way-out fashion, skater ...