As many of you have probably already noticed, there is something unusual going on in Germany and in some parts of the Netherlands these days… Yes, yes, it is CARNAVAL or CARNEVAL or CARNIVAL to put it simple – partying and celebrating all around in funny costumes!
Given that in the Carnival week we have no lesson in the Language School in Germany – I must say that from what I have experienced so far, it seems to me that Germans take it a bit more seriously than Dutch people.
I was quite surprised when teacher said – by the way, next week we have no lesson because there is a Carnival, see you in two weeks! So, for the next few days “normal life” basically stops and everybody is going to celebrate carnival! That’s the general idea.
And what about me, IVY volunteer, working in an office with Germans and Dutch? Well, the truth is, we are working as usual, but as for today – my colleagues organized a little gathering for all women working at EUREGIO to celebrate carnival in quite special way! And I was also invited :)
This special way of celebrating /or the event is called in German “Altweiber”. Altweiber?? Never heard of it? Neither have I. Anyway, though it sounds weird, I do not find Altweiber to be a strange tradition, comparing it with other ones that I have experienced/learned about before (e.g. sitting on an ant hill competition in Finland – won’t go into the details-the title is enough). Anyway, what I am trying to say, it does not matter how weird or crazy our traditions might seem. What does matter is to cherish the cultural differences we have in Europe and do not see them as an obstacle – btw –part of a mission called “successful cross-border cooperation “, thus part of EUREGIO too.
And now back to the Altweiber. The main idea of Altweiber is actually quite simple - on that particular day (every year it is a different date, 52 days before Easter Sunday), one day in a year women are allowed to do everything they wish to do! Sounds quite good, doesn’t it? Surprisingly, this traditions is quite old - the roots go back to the Middle Ages!
And how did EUREGIO´s women celebrated this old tradition? Well, my German and Dutch colleagues organized a little gathering during working hours (see above – women are allowed to do what they wish) with delicious Berliner (super famous German donut). Moreover, we listened to the “carnival songs” and sang along (hummed along – the ones who did not know the lyrics-me), exchanged each other´s experience with carnival and just spent a quality carnival hour in between work. I must say that EUREGIO´s women cherished the tradition of Altweiber in a nice way :)
But one question remains yet - what about poor men and Altweiber? Tradition says that they should keep quiet, listen, and allow women to do what they want! Well, as for the EUREGIO's men – they supported the idea, and they did listen to women and did not disturb much :)
Obviously, everybody happy, everybody satisfied! Me included:)
Culturally enriched, smarter (learned a new aspect of a German culture and new word “Altweiber”) and most importantly happy with my volunteering work and such a nice colleagues around me!
I think I might miss it when I leave..