It’s that time of year when one half of the country is skiing and the other half is partying at home. And when I say partying, I mean hardcore partying. It’s carnival.

Yesterday, we were already treated to a traffic jam around Cologne, a city where carnival is the main event of the year. As I’ve never witnessed Germans celebrating carnival before, I can now disclose to you that some of them drive their cars on the highway wearing paint on their cheeks.

I grew up with carnival. Despite it being mainly celebrated below the rivers in The Netherlands, the northern provinces have places where they celebrate it too. I really loved it as a kid. Especially when I was allowed to join the big parade in my village, as part of the wind orchestra. I remember mostly cold fingers and very tired lips (playing oboe).

Some years it would be too cold for my oboe to play outside. One year I walked the parade together with my mother. Snow was predicted, but there was no snow at all. I grabbed my old skateboard and put our ancient sled on top of it. We wrote a silly reference to the snow on cardboard, we put on some silly clothes and wigs, grabbed a bottle containing an alcoholic drink to keep us warm (I must have been older than sixteen, the legal drinking age) , and together we had a great time. We even won a price.

This year, due to yet another februari storm, most of the big parades were cancelled. That doesn’t mean the end of carnival though. Parades are only a part of the celebration. I therefore wasn’t surprised to see many people at Utrecht CS dressed up in costumes.

I don’t celebrate carnival any more. Every now and then I happen to be in my birth place, to celebrate my parents’ birthdays (both of them have their birthdays around this) and I watch the parade for a bit. It is still a big parade and the organisers added more celebrations around the parade during the years, like they do in the south. It is the biggest event of the village and I’m glad I was able to enjoy it while I lived there. Every normal person needs to be able to act silly once in a while.