11.11 @ 11:11am

I toyed around with the idea of not writing about the most obvious topic occurring on November 11 of every year at 11:11am here in Köln. Then it dawned on me that in fact I should write about it only to highlight a key difference between Köln and North America regarding the date of November 11.

In North America, since the end of World War I, we celebrate Remembrance Day on November 11 of every year to remember the soldiers who dedicated their lives to fight for our country. It’s a day of grieving, mourning and remembering lives that were lost of brave people out on the battlefields. I have always felt rather close to Remembrance Day because it’s my way of showing gratitude for the sacrifices that were made in order for me to live in a peaceful country.  Thank you!

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On the other side of the globe, however, the atmosphere is quite different. Here in Köln on November 11 @ 11:11am, crowds of what once appeared to be proper Germans lose their properness and enjoy a day of marching in the streets dressed in all kinds of costumes, drinking and dancing! It is really quite a sight. I embraced the crowds at 11:20am and already an ambulance was busily shifting through the crowds to get somewhere, presumably a case of partying too hard. I would say everyone puts a serious effort into their costumes and beads. Yes, a bit like Mardi Gras except no floats from what I saw (but I am told we’ll have those in due time). The city of Köln, at the start of “Karneval”, becomes an outdoor club for people dressed in costumes. So Germans do have a sense of humour – one just needs to be at the right place at the right time.

November 11 has a different significance here. Kölnians have a unique way of showing their cultural patriotism.  Kölle Alaaf and Prost!

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