Carnival vocabulary

Last Updated on March 31, 2023

The German carnival has many traditions and special words. Here are the most important of German carnival vocabulary words. What is Jeck and Larve? What does a Funkmariechen do? These and other questions we answer in this post.

Read about the carnival here
Swabian-Alemannic carnival in Ulm
Swabian-Alemannic carnival in Rottweil

Fastnacht – fasten + Nacht. In Switzerland the variant Fasnacht. There is also very short Fasnet

fasten – fast + night, that is, the night before fasting. It is used precisely in this sense, but also as a designation of the entire carnival time.

Fasching – fasten + Schank

Schank – alcohol trade. That is, the sale of alcohol, drunkenness before fasting. Used as a symbol for carnival. There is information that it is more often used in the southeast, but it is also common here in Ba-Wü.


Used in the Rhine region to indicate the time of the procession itself and festive parties. In other regions, it is used more often to refer to carnivals in other countries.

Fünfte Jahreszeit

Carnival time from 11.11 (11th November) to Ash Wednesday


Ash Wednesday is the beginning of the Easter fast. The earliest date could be February 4th, the latest March 10th.

Before Wednesday comes Veilchendienstag and Rosenmontag (in some sources from a rose that the Pope blesses (albeit after 4 weeks, so it’s strange), in others from rasen – rush, rage, go crazy)

Ahoi – greeting in the North of Germany (nautical greeting)
Alaaf – Cologne greeting
Helau -common greeting in Germany

All greetings are for Narren (participants of carnival) und are called therefore Narrenruf.


Bützchen – kisses with a brightly smeared mouth with lipstick (in the Rhine region during a procession). They are generously distributed to men during the women’s carnival, especially if they do not want to donate a tie.


Sunday after Ash Wednesday. At this time, wooden or thatched towers are burned to drive away the winter.

Garden (see also Tanzmariechen)

Dance groups, mostly girls. Guards appeared in the 20th century. Dances are often shown not at carnivals, but at competitions and other events of the carnival period.


Exceptionally groovy and special music of the Swabian-Alemannic carnival.


Fixed to the participant of the Swabian-Alemannic carnival and often inherited costume.


Jeck – active participants of carnival. Different figures may take part in the carnival, depending on the region and town.
For example:
Garden, Karnevalsprinz in Rhine carnival
Fastnachthexe (carnival witches), Weißnarr in Swabian-Alemannic carnival
Hoppeditz in Düsseldorf
Dreigestirn (three men as Prince, Peasant, Maiden) in Cologne
and so on


From the word caramel – something that is thrown into the crowd.


Carved mask of the Swabian-Alemannic carnival


Narr someone who loves fun, risqué jokes and celebrates carnival.

Narrensprung and Narrenzunft

Narrensprung – procession of the Swabian-Alemannic carnival.
Narrenzunft – carnival society


A doll that is often hung at the carnival at the door of pubs and burned on the night of Ash Wednesday, which frees carnival participants from sins, so that they are “clean” (and hungover) go on a fast.


The most important meeting of the carnival society (Karnevalverein), accompanied by a show of the participants.

Schmalziger Samstag

Butter Saturday – In the Swabian-Alemannic region, the Saturday of Carnival, when fatty foods were eaten.

Schmotziger Donnerstag or Weiberfastnacht (Women’s carnival)

Schmotz is the Swabian word for fat, i.e. Fat Thursday is the Thursday before Carnival. Women’s carnival time. On this day, the burgomaster is expelled and ties are cut as a symbol of male power.

Tanzmariechen (Funkmariechen)

Girls (originally men) once portrayed a sutler. They belong to the Rhenish type of carnival. Tanzmariechen with Tanzoffizieren dance or show acrobatic.

Other posts about tradition in Germany – #tradition
Swabian-Alemannic carnival in Ulm
Carnival in Germany
Swabian-Alemannic carnival in Rottweil

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