In the U.S you might know of or celebrate Mardi Gras, but in Germany people celebrate Karneval. The Karneval season actually lasts for a few months, but the craziest days are about a week leading up to Ash Wednesday. Rosenmontag is the Monday before Ash Wednesday and many cities hold big parades to celebrate. People wear crazy costumes, watch the parade, and celebrate all day long. While people watch they can collect candy and flowers thrown from the parade floats.
I went to the Karneval parade in Cologne, one of the biggest celebrations in Europe. Most of the international students and I traveled by train to the Cologne main station and then we found a spot to stand along the parade route. The parade started late in the morning and would last for several hours. I collected a ton of candy and flowers, which kept me feeling full until I found a food stand later. The parade route is about 8 km long, but there were so many floats that the first floats would be done and there would still be ones waiting to start. The amount of people that turned out was amazing too, and it wasn’t just young people like me. There were people of all ages, and it looked like everyone was having a great time. Because of the massive amounts of people celebrating, it took me around half an hour to get back to the train station to go home, which should have taken about ten minutes.
Karneval was a crazy and fun celebration that I am glad I got to experience. Some of the most memorable parts of my trip so far have been experiencing how Germans celebrate differently than back home.