Carnival in the Rhineland , the dangerous life of ties on Fat Thursday
In the UK, ties are only one of the many clothings and accessories worn in their most original forms for Carnival. In Germany, to be precise in the Rhineland, these men’s accessories are the protagonists of a tradition that sees them as a “sacrifice” during the festivities: discover why the ties are at risk of extinction in the crazy days of German carnival…
If you ever happen to find yourself in Cologne, Bonn or in any other city in the surrounding area during the Carnival period, we recommend you to not to walk down the street wearing a tie. Even if you are in Germany for business reasons!
This is because of a popular tradition in the Rhineland which is really curious and doesn’t exist anywhere else in the world: Fat Thursday, the first day of the carnival celebrations, is called “Weiberdonnerstag” (Thursday of the women) and is followed by “Weiberfastnacht” (literally, the night of the women’s carnival). The women take over the streets during the festivities, and zero in on all well-dressed men in sight.
If they have found a “victim”, the ladies surround him, cut off his tie and collect the relic. After the encounter with the sharp scissors, the women compensate the poor man with a “Bützje”, a small kiss. Once this is done, they continue the hunt in search of other unfortunates who did not remember the looming threat of that day, or simply couldn’t avoid wearing a tie.
The ladies are often not only armed with traditional scissors but also carry giant plastic replicas that sure have a certain effect! Doctors, bankers, managers … no man is spared from the fateful cut and, during this day of total madness, everyone knows that it is best not to wear a tie – or at least not their favourite model.
The origin of this curious tradition is not particularly old. It was born in the nineteenth century when the washerwomen of a district in Bonn decided to protest against the ban to participate in the carnival festivities which was, until then, reserved to the men. Having secured this right in a tough fight, the German women are very proud of their achievement that on Fat Thursday the Rhenish cities belong completely to them.
So, considered one of the quintessential symbols of masculinity, year after year, thousands of ties are mercilessly snipped.