Excuse me, what did you say? Alaaf! I still don’t understand you…
Well, “Alaaf” is something that people would shout at the carnival in Aachen and other parts of the region. I tried to look up its meaning but it is still not quiet clear. According to one explanation it has something to do with laughing, the other one says to ‘get out of the way’. Anyway, people were shouting “Alaaf!” at the carnival on the last weekend in Aachen and after a while we did too because it seemed easier to get more sweets by doing so. Even our son shouted it which was quiet funny to see.
The whole party started on Thursday (Fett Donnerstag=”Fet Thursday”) at 11:11am when everybody had some kind of a party at their workplace (or school or kindergarten). Usually men have to wear a tie and women would cut them with scissors. I don’t understand exactly why but they say if you don’t wear a tie they would cut something else off… And women are allowed to cut ties on the streets, as well. Most people dress up and wear costumes and there are always “carnival donuts” at the parties called Berliner: filled with jam and covered with lots of sugar. After the party at work usually everybody gets home early this day.
The party goes on as the weekend approaches. Many private parties take place in the city along with huge balls. In Köln (Cologne) there is a great carnival on Friday.
On Sunday (Tulpen Sonntag=”Tulip Sunday”) There is a big carnival in the city center of Aachen organized mostly by schools and more for children. But it is huge. There are tractors pulling big vehicles called “Züge” (=trains) especially made for this carnival and they would build a new one with an other theme every year! People come dressed up and wait for this really nice trains (most of them come with music on) along the streets, everybody shouts “Alaaf” here and there, and candies and other sweets are thrown from these trains to the crowd to collect them. The real “hunters” go home with at least one full bag of sweets.
The whole carnival reminds me of the Thanksgiving Parade in Detroit where we previously lived. Both are great parties and lots of fun. Except that this year the weather was much-much warmer in Aachen then it is usually in Detroit at the end of November.
The next day comes “Rosenmontag” which means “Monday of Roses” and the whole thing with the trains is repeated. Well, not exactly the same because instead of trains representing schools, now there are trains representing associations, clubs and work places. It’s a bit more grown up. But the candy-throwing and the music is the same.
The lucky ones who live on these streets can even collects the sweets in their own window. Some might even use an umbrella or hammock for this reason…
Well, we were blessed with the weather this year and with our two and a half years old son it was a lot more fun then previously. I am glad that we could be there and finally had some fun because we needed it. And for the last time before the lent starts: ALAAF!