The Cologne carnival stretches back almost to the time the city first emerged in history. However, the celebration or rather the mannerism is actually just 190 years old. Truth is that prior to the current traditions, this festival or carnival was celebrated by the Romans and Greeks as a way of honouring Saturn and Dionysus. Then came the ancient Germans who did it in honour of the winter solstice and to ward away evil demons. Such heathen traditions were retained in the spirit of the city even though eventually the Carnival became a Christian occasion.
The city council and church would impose bans in the past against the Carnival but the public did not care and masqueraded around in drastic attires. The spirits and wilderness remained throughout the ban and then in the 18th century, the carnival accepted masked and fancy dress attires. Even through occupation by foreign forces, this carnival continued to happen. The French, the stricter Prussians all allowed the carnival parades. This is what gave it the romantic allure through the ages and today it has finally become a mega-managed event.
Soon enough Festival Committees were founded and they could be roughly classed into two divisions. One based on corps societies where uniforms were mandatory and they were considered the representation of the military. The second division was based on societies where members simply wore a singular jacket and gave a theme representation of their society.
In recent years, there is a new alternative carnival scene (such as the Superfoods carnival – learn more about superfoods here) that happens each year in Cologne and it is different in that it makes fun of the same associations and clubs that organize the Cologne carnival. Together the variety in activities and events in the carnival showcases the diversity of the crowd and the motto, “Jede Jeck es anders” or Fools are all different, has become an integral thought for the Cologne carnival.