Carnival is a spring festival, whose roots can be traced back to antiquity and is connected to the oldest rituals for "banishing winter" and for fertility. For several days, with large processions and a lot of noise and music, people in masks go out in the streets to celebrate the "fifth season" of the year, which ends in early spring, just before the beginning of Lent.
The term "Carnival” comes from the Latin term "Carrus navalis" or "ship of fools” - a ceremony, connected to the celebration of the goddess Isis. Similar rituals also took place in Germany in honor of the goddess of fertility Nerthus. These celebrations survived to the Middle Ages and could not be destroyed by the Christian church, so they were gradually adopted into the Christian calendar. "The fools" on a ship sailing the Rhine, were described in 1494 by Sebastian Brant as people with hats with donkey ears, which had bells and cock’s combs, rejoicing around a tree, which was decorated with flowers and ribbons. Gradually these customs were adopted by many royal courts in Germany. Around 1500, during the reign of Emperor Maximilian, began the first masked balls and tournaments and in the 17th and 18th century these celebrations turned into lavish shows and sources of entertainment.
In Germany Carnival is called Fasching. It is celebrated throughout the country, but especially in the Rhine valley. Most famous are the Carnival parades in Cologne and Düsseldorf. There are three most important days in the period of Carnival, known as the "Crazy Days”:
„Women’s Thursday” - then women have the right to cut in two the ties of all the men they see;
"Rose Monday” - the biggest parade during Carnival takes place. The traditional images on this day are the prince, the peasant and the maiden, whose role must be played by a man.
„Ash Wednesday „- the finale of the holiday marks the beginning of Lent. The night before- „Night of Lent "- people have the wildest celebrations with songs, music and dancing.