Celebrations: Celebrate life

We are in the here and now, experience community and ourselves very differently than usual - at the carnival ball as well as at the private party

The air in the posh party palace Moka Efti shimmers, the chapel on the stage puts the party in the mood. A long drum solo. Everyone is dancing now. The charismatic singer shows how the whole hall follows in synchronous movements. Men with suspenders, women in glittering hanging dresses, promising looks, teasing twists. They have all arrived in the here and now. Nobody thinks about tomorrow anymore.

The scene from the series "Babylon Berlin", which was a big hit on television towards the end of last year, conveys the perfect party feeling. It stands for the "Golden Twenties". What would be seen in a series in a hundred years, which is supposed to show what is typical of our present decade? Probably people who meditate a lot on their own, work effectively and worry about the calorie balance of their meals.

Forget the routine

In the age of self-optimization with a lot of mindfulness and good nutrition, hot fetuses, which sometimes lead to lack of sleep and tasty, but unhealthy food, are not necessarily popular.

Instead, we go to bed early and deep inside. But when are you more in the moment than at a good party, where all pressure and worries are gone and you only live in the immediate present? "That can happen with dance tea as well as at rock festival. The occasion doesn't matter," says Dr. Yvonne Niekrenz, sociologist at the University of Rostock. Partying is simply good. Festivities are the bright contrast to the gray routine, flavor and rhythm of life. "Imagine if we would do the same thing every day all year round without ceasing. That would be intolerable. We need highlights that we can look forward to," says the cultural scientist Professor Walter Leimgruber from the University of Basel.

Celebrate the community

Celebrating also always means celebrating the community. It is something that simply cannot be done alone. "It strengthens the cohesion of the group. A private party creates a circle of friends, a party in the neighborhood creates a neighborhood," says Leimgruber. And this aspect is perhaps even more important than it used to be in our age of individualization and isolation, in which everyone can dive into their smartphone at any time or disappear for a whole weekend in their Netflix subscription.

Festivals are the opposite. People who are unfamiliar with one another suddenly begin to speak on their terms, and physical closeness quickly develops. "We experience a sense of togetherness. Just think of the dancing, swaying and singing," says the pedagogue and psychotherapist Wolfgang Oelsner from Cologne, who has dealt a lot with the longings in carnival. It is not for nothing that singing and dancing are also used therapeutically. After all, both increase well-being. Many positive components come together when dancing: music, movement, coordination, touch. This has been shown to reduce stress and increase fitness.

Transformation at a run-up

While researchers measure hormone concentrations and the power of the cardiovascular system, the enthusiastic couple dancer Rose Bihler Shah formulates it poetically: "It gives a great sense of harmony. It opens up the cosmos." To ensure this enjoyment is guaranteed, the 60-year-old organizes dance teas and balls in Munich. She already loves preparing for it, savoring the adornment. "I think about which dress goes with the motto, I do my hair and make-up carefully." She becomes a queen of the night. Celebration enables transformation.

Actually, I'm very different

This aspect of celebration is particularly emphasized by the carnival with its costumes: "We meet ourselves differently, and we also meet others differently," says Oelsner. Other parts of our personality, otherwise buried by work and everyday life, are given space. In Mardi Gras, the chief doctor becomes a cowboy, the bank clerk becomes a vamp. Traditional folk festivals, such as the Munich Oktoberfest, turn suit and hoodie straps into smart boys with lederhosen and calf loafers, and bland office ladies make flirty girls in dirndls with colorful aprons and deep cleavage.

"Playing with another role is something deeply human. We are not limited to correctness and discipline," says Oelsner. The different appearance, the detachment from status and duty removes the usual distance boundaries and allows people to come together faster and more relaxed. "There is something soothing and liberating about it, as long as it remains recognizable as a game," says Oelsner.

The art of conviviality

Nonetheless, the repeal of the usual rules is accompanied by something threatening and imponderable. Suddenly very different things are very popular than usual: spontaneity, originality, fantasy, flirting, dancing, singing, jokes - the art of sociability. The sociologist Professor Tilmann Allert from the Frankfurt Goethe University says: "It is rewarded to be naive in a desired way, without competition. Those who can no longer imagine a life beyond competition are probably afraid of such exuberance to regret."