MAINZ, Germany – A steady drizzle and cold wind Thursday could not keep the women from celebrating Altweiberfastnacht – or old women’s carnival.
A couple of thousand people braved the weather to enjoy the fun on Schillerplatz, a downtown square. Music, live and canned, got the celebrants dancing and singing, keeping them warm, if not particularly dry.
Reports of sexual assaults in Cologne on New Year’s Eve and the continued threat of terrorism had cast a shadow over this year’s carnival celebrations, but police were out in force Thursday, and a ban on bottles forced participants to pass thorough security checkpoints making the revelry safer.
Weiberfastnacht, as it is also called, is a day when the women are in charge and can cut off men’s ties without fear of retribution. Despite this, men were also out in abundance, albeit without neckwear.
The day traditionally kicks off the final six days of the German carnival season; culminating in the giant Rose Monday parades in Mainz, Cologne and Düsseldorf that attract more than 1 million spectators.