#52 The History of Cologne Carnival – 200th Anniversary

Experience a time travel through 200 years of Cologne Carnival! From its beginnings to the present day, we will explore the history of Cologne’s famous cheerfulness, celebrate its traditions and customs, and understand why Carnival in Cologne is also always a reflection of its time.

Cologne celebrate’s its 200th anniversary of organized Carnival. Let’s take the opportunity during this Carnival week to talk about the history of Cologne Carnival.

Heinrich von Wittgenstein and the Festival Comitee

Heinrich von Wittgenstein (1797-1869)

The first Rose Monday Parade 1823

The “Hero Carnival” in his goldfish float.

Rose Monday Parade of 1836 still looked pretty much the same as the first one in 1823. Scene at the Neumarkt Square in Cologne with St. Apostles church in the background.

Drawing of Rose Monday Parade in 1825. In the first picture in the top lane you can see the Rote Funken (“Red Sparks”)

Carnival in 1848 at Neumarkt Square.

Rote Funken (“Red Sparks”)

The Rote Funke today entering a pub in the Old Town.

The Rote Funke took inspiration for their uniforms from the former cityguard of the free imperial city of Cologne as can be seen from a drawing from 1774.

Me together with the first and to date only female “Rote Funke” member: Mayor of Cologne, Henriette Reker.

The Kölner Dreigestirn (The Cologne Triumvirate)

The Triumvirate from 2005. Maiden, Prince and Peasant.

Drawing of the Peasant from 1825.

Carnival around 1900

Carnival in 1913.

Rose Monday Procession in 1890.

Postcard from 1906 showing Carnival in Cologne.

Drawing of kids playing during carnival around 1900 by Ludwig Knaus.

Cologne before World War 1

The audio is in German but the footage speaks for itself.

Singer-Songwriter Willi Ostermann


Cologne Carnival and Swastika

(c) Von Bundesarchiv, Bild 146-2002-009-28 / Hermann / CC-BY-SA, CC BY-SA 3.0 de.

Cologne Carnival committee president Thomas Liessem in occupied Paris in 1941.

The maiden of the Triumvirate during the Nazi era was a woman 1938 and 1939 and replaced the former male role. After the beginning of World War II there was no Carnival in Cologne. And since then the maiden is played by a man again up until today. This magazine cover presents the Triumvirate of 1938.

All female roles were played by men before 1933. Here you can see the stage play group “Cäcilia Wolkenburg” in 1912. During the carnival season, the Bühnenspielgemeinschaft performs a divertissement, a very unique type of musical theater that usually depicts an event from the city’s history or a model from classical literature in a comically parodic way.

© Raimond Spekking / CC BY-SA 4.0 (via Wikimedia Commons), CC BY-SA 4.0.

The “Tanzmariechen” the “Dancing Mary” used to be played by a man as well before 1933. But since then the role is played by women.

Carnival in post-WW2 Cologne – Rose Monday Parade in ruins

Carnival in 1951

Bläck Fööss

The Bläck Fööss in 2000 playing their song about potatoes pancakes from 1970. 😉

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s