Whether as an animal, as a profession or as a fantasy creature: Carnival is teeming with colorful costumes. But not all costumes are actually allowed. We’ll tell you which disguises can result in high fines.
Costumes are a must if you want to celebrate carnival properly. While some disguises, such as pirates and clowns, have almost achieved cult status, you can also see new trends every year, which are often inspired by successful films and series of the respective years.
This year, many carnivalists are focusing on food-related costumes, such as Löwensenf, Ahoj Brause or chocolate bonbons. Equally popular are the 90s and costumes from other galaxies – and of course the carnival classics such as Tanzmariechen.
With these costumes you make yourself punishable at carnival
Fake weapons can be among the forbidden disguises in Germany. If the dummies are too similar to real weapons, they fall under so-called sham weapons. According to Section 42a of the German Weapons Act, sham weapons carried in public constitute an administrative offense that can be punished with fines of up to 10,000 euros.
One of the reasons behind the ban is that replicas that are too realistic can be mistaken for real weapons and, in the worst case, can cause public panic.
Uniforms from various professions are now also used as inspiration for carnival costumes. However, it should always be clearly recognizable that it is a disguise. If the difference to a real service uniform is no longer recognizable, the costuming falls under the term “forbidden disguises”.
In the case of replicas that are true to the original, there can be a criminal offense through the misuse of titles, job titles and badges from Section 132a of the Criminal Code, which can be punished with a fine or imprisonment. This ban is intended to prevent, for example, people looking for help from being unable to tell the costumed people apart from real police officers, soldiers and the like, and from turning to you incorrectly in an emergency.
Right-wing extremist disguises, such as those worn as supporters of National Socialism (Nazi), fall under hate speech and unconstitutional costumes and are strictly prohibited. The same applies to all symbols and signs that are generally prohibited in Germany, such as the swastika. Costumes with the inscription “WP”, the abbreviation for “White Power”, the motto of the racist secret society “Ku Klux Klan”, are also not allowed.
Wearing such costumes can be punished with fines or up to 3 years imprisonment.
Too little fabric
If costumes do not cover enough and show too much bare skin, they can be classified as exhibitionist acts and public nuisance and are punishable under Sections 183 and 183a of the Criminal Code with fines or imprisonment of up to one year.
If you really want to dress up as a character from “Money Heist”, “Squid Game” or in general with a mask, you should also observe the ban on masking.
It is fundamentally forbidden in Germany to cover your face at public events, on the way to public events and in traffic so that everyone can be identified. Although exceptions are usually made at carnival events, such masks are still prohibited on the road. So you should take off your head and face costumes on the way to the carnival party.