February is in full swing, which can only mean one thing in Germany: carnival is around the corner.
In big cities across Germany carnival fans eagerly await the so-called “fifth season”. Although it technically began back in November, February and March is when the largest festivities kick off. This joyous occasion is often accompanied by one, or usually many, Bützchen.
What is ein Bützchen?
In pre-corona times if you attended a carnival celebration in Germany you would expect little to no social distancing. Instead, you’d find yourself in dense crowds and may be given a peck on the cheek (and sometimes mouth) by total strangers – a form of greeting known as a Bützchen.
A tradition originating from the Rhineland area, the kiss symbolises happiness and celebration.
Regional dialects may also call it a Bützje, and the corresponding verb is bützen. The term, translating to “little kiss” according to the Duden dictionary, comes from the late Middle High German word butzen, meaning to push. A synonym which is used more widely across Germany is Küsschen.
Rosenmontag, which this year falls on February 28th, is the high point of the Karneval and it usually includes hundreds of floats passing through cities or towns that celebrate.
This year it will be scaled back once again due to the pandemic, but there will still be some celebrations (and, of course, you can mark the day at home by dressing up in a very colourful outfit and planting a Bützje on your loved ones.
- 10 words you need to know for the Cologne festival
- Düsseldorf Helau! How I embraced the Rhineland’s carnival celebrations
Darf ich dir ein Bützchen geben?
Can I give you a kiss? (informal)
Das Beste am Karneval sind Singen, Tanzen und Bützen.
The best parts of carnival are singing, dancing and kissing.
„Heute bützen und lecken, morgen mit Knüppeln und Stöcken“ (a proverb originating from Cologne)
Kissing and licking today, tomorrow with cudgels and sticks.