Dinner and dance at Club Loreley’s Karneval costume ball

Photo by Jared Williams

Club Loreley senior dance group performing at Karneval festivities.

For members of Club Loreley in Oshawa, January is the time to get out their costumes and prepare to party.

That’s because it’s time for Karneval at the German heritage hall on Dean Avenue.

Karneval is a huge cultural festival that happens in Germany and across Europe that dates back to the Roman days.

There are other similar festivals that take place around the world such as Carnival in Trinidad, and Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Oshawa residents were encouraged to bring their smiles and appetites to Club Loreley for a unique and cultural experience.

Club president Ed Albrecht and vice-president of culture and sports Amanda Mountney hosted the evening consisting of food, drinks, music, dancing and prize giveaways.

Mountney, 34, has been coordinating the event for the past ten years.

“I’ve been doing this (coming to Karneval) since I was five,” Mountney said.

Compared to the size of celebrations in Germany, Club Loreley captures the same spirit, just on on a smaller scale, says Mountney.

“I wish I could go there when they do it because they have crazy parades – it’s ridiculous what they do out there to celebrate,” Mountney says.

Dating back to the 13th century, Karneval is known as the festival season in Germany. It traditionally begins Nov. 11 and continues until the clock strikes midnight on shrove Tuesday in February or early March.  The majority of the celebrating occurs towards shrove Tuesday, also known as pancake Tuesday.

At Club Loreley, the evening’s festivities started after a schnitzel dinner. The Loreley youth dancers brought the audience’s attention to the centre of the room with performances from the senior, junior, and kinder tot dancers The dancers perform in militant style costumes.

According to Albrecht, the tradition of festival costumes dates back to biblical times when young men of the village were taken by Roman soldiers and duty-bound into mercenaries. As a result, the women of the village would dress up in soldier-like costumes to mock the Roman soldiers.

In Germany the streets are filled with happy wanderers and parade floats during the Karneval period, Mountney says.

What translates to ‘the night for being wild and foolish’, Karneval is a time of celebration and merrymaking, a time to break rules and poke fun at those who make them. To avoid any grief or punishment from authority figures and other high place persons, this shenanigan behaviour was acted out behind masquerade masks or in costume.

“Growing up we always thought we get two Halloweens, one in October and then we get one again at the end of January, so it was fun,” she says.

Mountney enjoys watching her daughter and her friends laugh and enjoy the night, passing along the tradition with her own family.