February 14, 2013

The tale of the quilted corncob

Did you know Germans go to the basement to laugh? You always suspected this, didn't you? Well, it's perfectly true; most of them have party rooms in the basement.

But this is not the only place you might see them laughing; should you be lucky enough to travel to Cologne around this time of the year you see them making party practically everywhere. And let me tell you one thing more - they are really good at it!

Of course I'm talking carneval here; very serious business! Five days of unending party! We even get 1 1/2 days off from work, that should show how serious it is.

I'm not the party type, but carneval I do like. Everything begins on Woman's Carnival day, a Thursday. At 11.11 o'clock practically no one is working anymore. In the offices there are spontanous meetings with jelly filled donuts and sparkling wine on the table. Two hours later most people go home to prepare for the next party, with costumes of course.

My neighbours and I usually go to a village nearby and participate in a six hours session with an ambitious programm with dancing, songs and jokes. You have to imagagine 12 groups making their performances and since this is Germany, no spare time in between. One group goes out while the next one is marching in. This year the autobahn to Cologne was closed down, but still the groups manage to get there in time. Most cities and villages offer this kind of programm. That means the groups are usually exhausted by the end of the day, but still the show goes on.

In the mornings there are carnival processions with decorated waggons and so called foot groups. Everyone dressed in a costume with a central theme. Usually something political. This year I'm sorry to say my English friends, the jokes were on you.

For these street processions you need a warm costume, preferably one you can move well in. They throw tons and tons of sweets at the spectators and you have to be really fast to catch the best things. In the evenings you can go to a private party or a public carneval session.

You go from one place to another, only going home to get a bite to eat, to get a new costume or to sleep a couple of hours.

Of course you cannot use the same costume everywhere. I usually end up making 7-8 different costumes. This year was easy; I only made two. Our theme was vegetables or fruit and I decided I wanted to be a corn cob. Beauty (DD1) wanted to be a grape. The grape costume was easy piecy, but the corn cob! I made a lot of corn kernels, each one individually and was busy for a whole week. This golden stuffe did its best to annoy me, the sides rolled up, the fabrics moved in its own way...and then there was the golden fluff everywhere! I don't want to know how my lungs look like afterwards, of worse still, my sewing machine.

This is how my cutting board looked like. I needed hours and hours to scrub everything away.

This is what my costume looked like shortly before departure to the first carnival session. The leaves seems to have mooved with the wind, so this is not a good picture.

And Beauty? This is what she looked like.