“Kölle Alaaf!”: Useful Words and Phrases for the ‘Fifth Season’

Tach! The time for Karneval is upon us again so I thought it would be fitting to give you a few words and phrases that you might need to use, or at least understand, if you found yourself celebrating what is known as ‘the fifth season’ this year.

Pretty much every year, I head to Cologne to celebrate Karneval (which is referred to as Fasching or Fastnacht in other places in Germany, but that is, according to Tim the Kölner, wrong).

I will be taking the train tomorrow with my scarecrow costume in my suitcase (Fun fact: ‘scarecrow’ in German is Vogelscheuche which I didn’t know until I decided to be one this year at Karneval. It literally translates to “Bird shooer”. Ha!).

A lot of the following words and phrases are in the Kölsch dialect, which I have a problem with understanding anyway. Imagine someone speaking a strong Scottish dialect but also writing the way they speak too – you can’t understand what they say nor what they write. It’s interesting to say the least! Anyway, I’ll try and give the Hochdeutsch version as well, which is the German equivalent to ‘Queen’s English’.

Kölle Alaaf!

This is the one you hear all the time and is arguably the most important phrase you’ll need. I guess it translates to “Cheers to Cologne!” or something like that, and I’m not 100% sure how you would translate it into Hochdeutsch. But when this is called, it’s often three times in a row and people wave their arms in the air. They also change “Kölle” to other things too, like Kölsch (the beer) or whatever else they want to cheers to!

D’r Zoch kütt!

Der Zug kommt!

The phrase meaning “the parade is coming” is shouted, unsurprisingly, at the start of the parade. Imagine standing on the streets for an over hour because you want a decent spot to be able to catch things they throw from the floats and then finally hearing this phrase – the parade is coming (at long bloody last)!



kleiner Blumenstrauß

A strüßje (kind of pronounced “strues-yeh”) is a small bouquet of flowers, or sometimes just a single flower. People shout this when watching the parades to have flowers thrown at them. I prefer the sweets.



Linking nicely to the sweets, this means sweets! And it is also a word you hear being shouted at parades when a float is going by with people on holding boxes of sweets. Note: watch out for flying packets of pralines, because they can smack you on the head when you turn away for a second (yes, unfortunately speaking from experience).

I think these guys had bags of crisps that they were throwing. I’m not sure if you’re supposed to shout “crisps!” or just stick to “Kamelle”, but I got crisps anyway!


Narr (?)

Not sure if that’s the proper word for it in Hochdeutsch. Nevertheless, this word means “fool” or “crazy” and can be used as both a noun and an adjective. It’s basically used to describe Karneval goers, but it isn’t meant in a offensive sense. You can see it on the above picture of the “D’r Zoch Kütt” sign if you look carefully at the bottom!



Bützje refers to a small kiss – whether this is just on the cheek and/or the mouth, I don’t actually know, but it’s a word you might hear being flown around by lots of drunken fools carrying small bouquets of flowers and sweets!



This is one word for Karneval that Tim actually allows. I believe it’s just simply a different word for Karneval, and it’s also used in a song that I really like. The song is sung in the Kölsch dialect, so if you fancy hearing it, then check it out: Querbet – Nie Mehr Fastelovend. The video is odd, but I think it’s a good representation of the general mood and behaviour at Karneval with all the Jecks!

Know of any other useful words or phrases you might need at Karneval?


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