Cologne, Germany (dpa) – Cities and towns around Germany began another “season of foolery” on Tuesday as the clocks ticked down to the 11th month, 11th day, 11th hour and 11th minute to usher in the new carnival season.
Cologne and Mainz are the main bastions of the region’s carnival festivities, but many other, chiefly Catholic, areas around Germany were also ushering in carnival – often dubbed the year’s “fifth season”.
It will continue until Shrove Tuesday on February 17, when it ends at midnight, with the 40-day Lent fasting season starting on Ash Wednesday.
In Cologne’s city centre, some heavy drinking got underway to celebrate the start of carnival. Cologne Mayor Juergen Roters congratulated German astronaut Alexander Gerst for getting home just in time for the carnival season. Gerst and two other astronauts successfully landed in north-central Kazakhstan on Monday after spending 165 days aboard the International Space Station.
Carnival officials in Mainz read out from a “foolery constitution”. In Dusseldorf, the traditional local fool called Hoppeditz was awakened from the dead at exactly 11.11 am. Hoppeditz had lain buried since the previous Ash Wednesday.
In towns in the Franconian region, revellers were out to storm the city halls and symbolically allow the carnival fools to take power for a day.