Tuesday, 11 November 2008

11th November

Two airline pilots, a monk and a goat herd were chatting outside a coffee shop…

squawsNo, this isn’t the start of a joke. It is what I saw at 8:50 am today. I wasn’t too surprised though. You start to think fancy dress is fairly normal after you’ve been here a while (the photos show just a few of the characters I passed today).

No doubt the coffee shop gents were on their way to celebrate the official start of the carnival season - which kicks off at 11.11 am on the 11th November and runs all the way through to Ash Wednesday, with a little bit of a break for Christmas. The 11th November is traditionally important as it is the festival of St Martin, a patron saint of the poor.

All this fun is a big contrast to what happened in England today – the traditional observance of a two minute's silence in honour of Armistice Day. The celebrations felt a little odd to me, especially as this year marks 90 years since the end of 'The Great War'. witch and prince[The Germans have their own event to commemorate those who died in war. It is known as Volkstrauertag and takes place on the Sunday nearest to the 16th November.]

Anyway, as I had a doctor's appointment near the city centre, which ended about 11, I hopped on a tram to get into the centre in time to see what actually happens at 11.11 am. From what I could see, it seems that the time is the cue to start singing songs in praise of Cologne and its carnival and to begin aimlessly wandering the streets drinking beer. There are also numerous parties organised by clubs in the city, for those who really, really want to get into the spirit of things...

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