About two weeks ago, we decided to take advantage of my "spouses ride free on weekends" bus pass and take the kids to the village of Wolbeck. It's really quiet, small and its main tourist draw is a cemetery. On the outskirts there are trails that take you through the woods, so we thought that we might do that.  

Instead, we heard loud music, found a tent with smoke billowing out of it and dressed up drunks spilling everywhere. And so started off our introduction to Carnival Week in Germany, a pretty big deal and widely celebrated in this über Catholic region we're inhabiting. I'm so proud of myself for using the word über. Looks like my German lessons are paying off.
I wish I had a picture of the family of fish out of water.
For the next week, leading up to Lent, festivities were brought forth throughout the city. Ladies night on Thursday, a circus on Saturday and a parade on Monday, a self imposed Pancake Tuesday and Ash Wednesday. Some Catholics faithfully celebrate until Thursday, when they/we become lapsed Catholics at best. 

The circus was equal parts entertaining and sad. The acrobats were great, as well as the contortionists.  They were the most handsome of the troupe and I couldn't help but think of all the weird circus sex they must get on the road. Seriously, they're contortionists.

The animals, on the other hand, were uncomfortable to watch. I remember as a child going to the circus once, and then never again. I think it was around that time that my Mom joined the World Wildlife Foundation and Greenpeace and Amnesty for the Misunderstood Cat Ladies of the World. I'm not sure if the first two are correct, actually. Anyway, yesterday Claudia whipped one of her toy puppies with a belt because she was playing "circus", which was equally uncomfortable to watch.  They can wait until they have their own kids to go again.  
No cameras allowed inside.
The parade on Monday was a freaking riot. The day is known as Rose Monday and it is the most special of the Carnival days.  It's the German version of Mardi Gras, but instead of necklaces being thrown from the floats, you get shrink wrapped sausages.  You know, to be safe.
I'm a sucker for a good marching band.
I think being drunk would have helped during the parade.
Pie eyed.
The slightest thing can send me into a tizzy. Like the fact that Münster, with all it's pancake variations, does NOT celebrate Fat Tuesday. Wasn't Fat Tuesday the best school day of the year? If you went to a separate school in a small town, it probably was. We would spend the morning at church and then lunch in the basement. Maybe we didn't even have to go to mass? I really just remember the long tables and maple syrup.  

My Babcia always made Polish Pancakes (which are pretty much crepes) stuffed with homemade strawberry jam, so I did the same. I wasn't counting on the kids actually eating dinner that night, and in hindsight I should have made much more for it to be a true Fat Tuesday.  
A spot finally opened up for Claudia to start Kindergarten, and had she been in school on Wednesday, she would have been initiated in the custom of having a cross drawn on your forehead with ashes.  I think twitterer Jenny Johnson, explains Ash Wednesday best:

Happy Pretend Your Co-Workers Don't Look Creepy When They Come Back From Lunch With Black Shit Smeared Across Their Foreheads Day!!!!

So now we're into Lent and this city has shut down.  Shirts are buttoned up again, people have stopped smiling at strangers, and there are no more sausages being thrown around.  I think you're supposed to stop eating yummy food or something?  (I had two slices of birthday cake for dinner tonight, btw.) Or are you supposed to stop having vices?  I know someone who gives up sex.  But she's almost 90 and her husband is dead.  Which makes her really good at keeping her word.  I'm glad I'm just a lapsed Catholic who is clearly just in it for the pancakes.  

25/2/2012 04:13:20 am

Yes I did join World Wildlife Foundation and Greenpeace. I also supported the Black Beauty Ranch and Fund for Animals, both started by Cleveland Amory. As for Amnesty for the Misunderstood Cat Ladies of the World, I'm the founder, president, and all around resident savior of retarded, drooling, cross-eyed kitties everywhere :)

25/2/2012 04:53:17 am

Are you yelling at me?

25/2/2012 06:15:14 am

No, not at all. THIS IS YELLING. Look up. See? No yelling. If anything I'm beyond impressed that you remembered WWF and Greenpeace. And - I mean this sincerely - I can't begin to tell you how I feel over you carrying on with a boycott of animal circuses. I'll make sure Cream gives you lots of wet kisses when you get here :)

25/2/2012 09:08:50 am

Nice JJ reference. Ash Wednesday was always so awkward in high school because you'd spend the rest of the day talking to poeple with ashes on their foreheads.

27/2/2012 10:55:50 pm

You, Tara have such a great writting sence. Carnival Week in Germany sounds pretty wild. Weird circus sex probly so true !! giggle. Is Aaron the German tearcher ? Proud of you aswell for taking on this new adventure and crazy speaking terms. Yes it is pretty sad to see the animals in the circus. I'm sure there are laws but how do you know they are really well taken care of.. Who know's right..? Shrink wrapped sausages to be safe OMGOODESS to freaken funny . Pie eyed guy looks pretty awesome honestly that parade looks like it was alot of fun. Those floats are equally CRAZY as they are cool. You got some really great pictures. Fat Tuesday I still do remember to this day, but not hash Wednesday Im not Catholic soooo ... I LOVE PANCAKES :) Hailie did Fat Tuesday aka ''pancake day'' is what they called it at Tapleytown. Great read Tara hun. Take care of yourself and the Fam. Can't wait to see you's xoxo Cheers and much love.


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