Germany


Mardi Gras celebrations in New Orleans and elsewhere may culminate tomorrow, on Fat Tuesday, but in most of Germany it’s today — Rosenmontag — that marks the end of the Carnival (Fasching) season. And the highlight of Rosenmontag in several German cities is a huge, festive parade.

When I was growing up in southern California, the big parade, of course, was the annual Rose Parade on New Year’s Day. I dutifully watched it (and still do) every year on TV, and have even seen it in person a few times.

But I didn’t grow up in a culture, a town, or even a part of the country that really celebrated Mardi Gras and so never really knew much about it. Then, when I was twelve, we moved to Germany, where I lived for most of my teenage years. And we lived near Mainz, which is one of the hotbeds of Fasching celebrations. After growing up with the Rose Parade, Rosenmontag’s Fasching Parade was quite a change of pace (although, coincidentally, “Rosenmontag” literally means “Rose Monday).

Most of us skipped school that day to go into downtown Mainz with our families or friends, to stand along the parade route with thousands of other people, all of us bundled up against the cold, and many in wacky costumes. I remember a group of people waddling along the edge of the parade route one year, in chicken costumes, stopping periodically to perform the, well, the “chicken dance.” (You’re humming the tune now, aren’t you?)

In the parade were huge-headed “puppets,” bizarre floats displaying political satires, all sorts of crazy costumes, and people throwing candy and confetti and more candy. And everyone, participants and spectators alike, shouting “Helau!”

While we lived overseas our “hometown” English-language newspaper was, of course, the Stars and Stripes … which just last week published an article on Mainz’s Fasching celebrations. And there’s even a video, so you can see and hear a bit of the festivities for yourself.

Happy Rosenmontag! Helau!!

And so, with yesterday’s post, we’ve come to the end of our recap of this year’s Celle CIAT. It was a wonderful event and a lovely weekend, and we were lucky to be able to spend it with friends both old and new.

Thank you to the event’s organizers, officials, and competitors (the ones shown here, and the many others we didn’t get photos of) for welcoming us so warmly!

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this photo looks all cloudy and spotty because, although the rain had stopped by this point (after the awards ceremony), my camera lens was soaking wet

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Since it’s cool and rainy and generally kind of yucky here in Lexington today, I thought it would be a perfect time to head back to Germany for our penultimate look at the Celle CIAT. It was just as gray and wet on that Sunday afternoon as it is here today.

Following the cones competition, there was a bit of a break, and then we were all (during a brief dry spell) entertained by some of the Landgestüt’s stallions:

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And then it was time for the CIAT awards ceremony.

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After everyone had processed into the arena and lined up — during the actual awards ceremony, in other words — the skies opened up, and we all got soaked …

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wet dog … good dog, but wet dog

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I saw some horse-show photos yesterday … I think they were probably from the very early twentieth century. In one, as a test of the driver’s skill, a turnout was driving between two chairs. Percursors to our modern cones competitions, perhaps?

Speaking of cones courses, let’s head back to Germany to take a look at some of the Celle CIAT competitors on their cones course.

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the Polish five-in-hand was the last to go on the cones course and, unfortunately, it poured rain throughout their drive … Can you see the rain?!

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As promised, here’s a sequence of photos showing  Krzysztof Szuster’s and his five-in-hand during the final driver’s test at the Celle CIAT:

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It’s a good thing that A.J. and I both took a lot of photos while we were in Germany, as it’s allowing me to keep throwing photos up here while I work frantically continuously on the October issue of the magazine (it’s due to the printer in a few days). I hope you’re continuing to enjoy Germany as much as I am!

What we were able to see of the Celle CIAT country drive on Sunday morning was lovely, but we didn’t really end up with very many photographs in the end … what with the on-and-off rain, some limited sightlines through the various shrubbery, too much shade under the French Garden’s avenue of trees, and people wandering in front of us as we tried to photograph the turnouts.

Here are just two photos from the French Garden portion of the drive:

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… And here’s one from behind the new city hall building:

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The final portion of the drive was back at the Landgestüt:

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First, each turnout entered the arena and drove once around the track:

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Then, in the center of the arena was the final “test of the drivers’ skill” for the morning’s drive. The drivers had to come to a complete stop next to a stand that consisted of two platforms (at two different heights) on a pole. On one of these platforms (at the appropriate height for each driver) was a glass of champagne. They had to take the glass, drink the champagne, drive (holding the glass, so one-handed) to the next stand, stop there, and set the empty glass on that platform. Here, you can see one of the four-in-hand drivers reaching for his glass of champagne:

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I’ll have more on this driver’s test in tomorrow’s post …

Next up in our recap of the Celle CIAT is the “country drive” phase, which wandered through a portion of Celle’s lovely French Garden. Before we get to a few of the turnouts, let’s take a look at the garden itself, which A.J. and I both took a few photos of …

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It all looks rather like a painting, wouldn’t you agree?

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