The origin of the Cologne carnival can be traced back to the year 1341. Carnival derives from the Latin word „Carnislevamen“, translated „meat, farewell“. It is the last festival before Lent, a time of abandonment. The Carnival is deeply connected with the Christian religion.
The festival was so excessive in the years before 1823, that it was repeatedly banned. Masked cliques ran riot in the streets of Cologne. There were clashes, including murder. A group from the „better“ circles of the city founded in 1823 the „Festordnende Comité“ and organized from now on the Cologne carnival in their interests. Until today, the elitist circle around the „Festkomittee Kölner Karneval von 1823 e.V.“ („Festival Committee of Cologne“) is responsible. In hardly any other city in the world the carnival is so ingrained and so professionally organized, like in Cologne.
The highest representative of each carnival season is the Prince. This function is the most prestigious in the Cologne Carnival and involves high financial costs. Together with his „Deftigkeit“ (ribald) the Farmer and their „Lieblichkeit“ (sweetness) the Virgin, overtime represented by a man they build the Cologne triumvirate. It is selected by the „Festival Committee of Cologne“. While the carnival season the prince is the ruler of cologne. The farmer represents the constancy of Cologne and the virgin stands for the self-determination of the city.
The aura surrounding the triumvirate is enormous. Weeks before carnival the Prince is represented in the daily local press. He is celebrated like a popstar. It is an open secret that a high office in the Cologne carnival is also helpful for a great career. In 8 weeks, the trio has up to 400 appearances. They reach up to the highest regions of politics. It ends on Ash-Wednesday. The frenetic celebrated triumvirate get private persons again. A challenge for many. Next year a new triumvirate is selected.