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How is Carnival celebrated in Poland, Germany and Japan?

How is carnival celebrated in other countries? Does Carnival exist everywhere?

Our ambassadors explain how they celebrate this event and the cultural differences between Luxembourg and their own countries. Today, Djenita (Bosnia), Eva (Germany) and Nanako (Japan) tell us about their Carnival traditions.

In Japan

When I see children walking around with their lanterns on the 2nd of February, the "Liichtmessdag”, it reminds me that the following day is, in Japan, Setsubun, the day before the beginning of Spring.

On this day, people commonly engage in Mamemaki (bean throwing), not only in shrines or temples, but also in households. The purpose of this popular practice is to drive away the evil spirits of the former year. The Japanese throw Fukumame (“fortune beans”, roasted soy beans) outside saying “Oni ha soto”--which means “Demons go out”, and inside or even eat them saying “Fuku ha uchi!” – i.e. “Good luck come in”.  

As we have a Japanese supplementary school in Luxembourg, we have a custom to celebrate Setsubun with the children on the next Saturday following the third of February. On that day, the older pupils wear masks of demons or ogres (“Oni”) while the younger ones throw at them beans shouting “Oni ha soto!”, not forgetting of course to eat their share of beans in a number equal to their age plus one more bean to secure good luck!

Nanako Miyazaki Vallez
Japanese ambassador for the Just Arrived Ambassador Club

In Poland

The Carnival (traditional Polish name is zapusty) in Poland starts on 6th January and ends on the so-called Ash Wednesday - this year it is on 10th February. As in most countries in Europe it’s a period of celebrations, parties, eating greasy food and having lots of fun.

The last days of the Carnival (ostatki, starting from the “Fatty Thursady” - tłusty czwartek – and lasting until the Ash Wednesday) are particularly intense. In the past the biggest highlight of this period, apart from the usual dancing, eating and drinking, was a special party called kulig.

It’s main attraction was a sleigh ride (sometimes with torches and music) followed by all kinds of traditional alcoholic drinks and hot food. Some people follow this tradition until today and I have to tell you it’s really fun!

Aneta Siejka
Polish ambassador for the Just Arrived Ambassador Club

In Germany

Carnival is in Germany also called „the fifth season“ and that has a reason: the carnival season starts on November 11th at 11.11 am and ends on Ash Wednesday. Although you might find some carnival events already in November, the funny season reaches it`s peak on the week-end before Ash Wednesday.

Carnival is generaly very popular in Germany, (especially in Düsseldorf, Cologne and Mainz), there are only a few regions where they don't celebrate it at all. Along the rhine, people wear carnival costumes all day long (even the bus drivers, teachers, sellers in shops...). They love their carnival parades with the colourful floats from where they throw candys into the crowd and where they sing carnival songs

The carnival parties. are also very popular as it gives a perfect opportunity to tease politicians and famous people. The most famous parties are even broadcast on TV .  In carnival season, people eat quite greasy (good base for alcoholic drinks) and you can find specialities as f.e. filled doughnuts. All the goodies that are forbidden during the following fasting period...

Eva Walker
German ambassador for the Just Arrived Ambassador Club