Karneval in Cologne (February 19, 1998)
In the predominantly Catholic regions of western and southern Germany, Karneval (i.e. Mardi Gras), also known as Fastnacht or Fasching in German), is celebrated in the days prior to Ash Wednesday with colorful costumes, processions, balls, and “sessions” with carnival orators. In the Rhineland, Cologne is widely regarded as a Karneval stronghold. Since 1823, the city has hosted a Shrove Monday procession, the climax of the “fifth season.” This photo shows costumed revelers (so-called Jecken) during the Shrove Monday procession. It is believed that this custom has Christian origins, since it allows for some final revelry before Lent. However, the origin of this custom has not been clarified to this day. Photo: Herbert Spies.