Rosenmontag – Rose Monday

Rain, sunshine or snow, the Rosenmontag (Rose Monday) Parade …

Mainz Carnival Parade Rosenmontag Gott Jokus

…is the highlight of the Mainz carnival Season.

Fastnacht or Fashing is the local name for carnival in Mainz and it is not called locally the 5th season for nothing, as it is a time where locals who enter into the nonsense that is carnival do so with gusto and the whole city takes on a carnival spirit.

The Parade Marshal is escorted by giant steeds ridden by young cadets of the carnival associations…

Mainz Carnival Parade Rosenmontag Marshal

…while the real horses have to walk the parade route.

Mainz Carnival Parade Rosenmontag horse

On the Monday before Shrove Tuesday, the traditional Rosenmontag Parade – the focal point of the whole Mainz Carnival season – takes at least five hours to pass, with all the bands…

Mainz-Carnival-Parade-Rosenmontag-Ranzengarde-Band

…the flag twirlers…

Mainz Carnival Parade Rosenmontag flag garde

…the Gardes (the Carnival associations whose uniforms hark back to the early 19th century being then parodies of those of the occupying forces who from time to time occupied Mainz, which was since Roman times a strategic Rhineland city)

Mainz Carnival Parade Band Rosenmontag

…and Carnival Association members following behind their silver Glockenspiel…

Mainz Carnival Parade Ranzengarde Glockenspiel

…each of particular design…

Mainz Carnival Parade Volunteer Firemen Glockenspiel

…the political heads …( giant caricatures of the politicians of Rheinland Palatinate German state of which Mainz is the capital)

Mainz Carnival Parade Rosenmontag politics

…troops of baton twirlers, some high-stepping...

Mainz Carnival Parade strutting baton troop

.. brightly coloured dancing baton twirlers…

Mainz Carnival Parade Baton Troop

… and floats.

Mainz Carnival Parade Rosenmontag horse-drawn float

A visiting friend from England, herself a brass-band member, was over-awed by the sheer number of bands …

Mainz Carnival Parade Rosenmontag bands and float

…from the relatively traditional…

Mainz Carnival Parade Rosenmontag clown band

…and colourful visiting bands from elsewhere, like this one from Switzerland…

Mainz Carnival Parade Swiss band

…to that of the madly danceable and hypnotically slightly off-melody Guggemusik Bands…

Mainz Carnival Parade Rosenmontag Guggemusik band

…and the number of band members in each of them.

Mainz Carnival Parade Rosenmontag blue band

While apparently the English find it difficult to gather together enough to make a decent band, each local community around Mainz takes great pride in developing its band music for highlighting all the many occasions that the people of Rhineland Pfalz find to celebrate – the 5th season of Carnival being just one of the bigger parties.

Mainz Carnival Parade Mexican band

In English brass bands there are usually no trumpets…

Mainz Carnival Parade Rosenmontag band-trumpeters

…which is not the case for Germany, where the trumpet is a favourite of local brass bands

Mainz Carnival Parade Rosenmontag brass band trumpets

..whether playing the slightly off melody Guggemusik – imported from Switzerland and its border German states…

Mainz Carnival Parade Rosenmontag band Guggemusik trumpets

…or by other dark imports from the mountain regions, where Fastnacht or Carnival is a time to ward off the mountain spirits.

Mainz Carnival Parade Rosenmontag masked trumpeter

There are showers of tape-like confetti that, as in Switzerland, is all of one colour.

The confetti was introduced to replace the candies that were thrown from earlier parades but banned for a time. The philosophy about it being one colour was that if it was picked off the street to be thrown again, it would be recognisable as such –as if it were multi-coloured, it would be hard to distinguish between the fresh confetti and that mixed with rubbish from the street.

Mainz Carnival Parade Rosenmontag confetti

All sorts of treats are thrown for the children who wait expectantly …some with their bags all ready for the booty

Mainz Carnival Parade Rosenmontag clowns and children

…but the big kids who keep their goodies in more creative storage, like the hoods of jackets….

Mainz Carnival Parade creative storage

… are sometimes thrown things that are definitely not meant for children.

Mainz Carnival Parade Rosenmontag Carnival throw

The Mainz Rosenmontag Parade was not always political, but since the mid 1800s, it has been an opportunity for social comment and Mainz is known to be the most political of Carnival celebrations in Germany.

It is all taken in good humour by the local politicians who are lampooned in the various sitzungs or “sittings” where crowds all in costume listen to a sort of cabaret of satire – all in verse, intermixed with performances by local talent and favourite Fastnacht performers.

The pinnacle of these is the “Mainz sings and laughs” Sitzung that is televised. It is a favourite group-watch event of the 5th season with friends who gather at someone’s home to listen to the doggerel and laugh along.

But satire is not limited to the local. In the past it has included many major political events outside Germany – here with Obama’s election in the USA…

Mainz Carnival Parade Rosenmontag Obama Float

…and a useful play on the election phrase “Yes. We can!” …with a metaphor involving Viagra!

Mainz Carnival Parade Rosenmontag Viagra

The Banking crisis has been a source of satire for several years…

Mainz Carnival Parade Rosenmontag Bad Banker float

…and the “Financial bail outs” also are an ongoing source of Mainz carnival float themes.

Mainz Carnival Parade Rosenmontag Financial Bailout

Of course the floats also take a pot shot at the same problems others find in their local communities – bad diet…

Mainz Carnival Parade Bad Diet Float

…and the whole debate over swine flu…here seen to have radical side effects!

Mainz Carnival Parade Swine Flu Float

Not all floats are political. Some just celebrate the various guilds – such as this one for the German Master Butchers and Smallgoods makers, the Metzgerei, who throw good German Wurst (salami) to the hungry crowds.

Mainz Rosenmontag Metzgerei

Some floats are delights for the young audience…

Mainz Rosenmontag kinder float

… some reflect immigrant pride…

Mainz Rosenmontag Mexican float

…and some are just plain fun.

Mainz Rosenmontag ship

Whether it is a group of chicks…

Mainz Rosenmontag Parade chicks

…balloonists…

Mainz Rosenmontag balloonists

…giraffe…

Mainz Rosenmontag giraffe

…ladies who brought their bed quilts and windows with them…

Mainz Rosenmontag quilt ladies

…or the traditional cavemen who annually bare themselves to the elements, regardless of the weather – a good time is had by all.

Mainz Rosenmontag cavemen

By the time the Ente (duck) arrived to announce the Ende (end)

Mainz Rosenmontag Ente

…there was plenty of rubbish on the streets….

Mainz Carnival Parade Clown Family

...but as the crowd wandered to its next party location, the clean-up teams were hard at work – and with German efficiency, within twenty minutes the streets were swept clean…

Mainz Carnival Parade Cleanup

…leaving some people wondering where all the magic had gone!

Mainz Carnival Parade is over

But as science fiction author Frank Herbert said:

There is no real ending.

It’s just the place

where you stop the story

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