Kölner Karneval. A variety of customs and traditions are associated with Carnival celebrations in Germany. They vary somewhat from region to region. In parts of Eastern and Southern Germany, Karneval is called Fasching. In Franken (Franconia), the Southwestern parts as well as other parts of Germany, it’s called Fastnacht or Fasnet. While Germany’s carnival traditions are mostly celebrated in the predominantly Roman Catholic Southern and Western parts of the country, the Lutheran/Protestant North traditionally knows another festival under the Low Saxon names Fastelavend, Fastelabend, or Fastlaam. This name has been imported to Denmark as Fastelavn and is related to Vastelaovend in the Low-Saxon-speaking parts of the Netherlands. It is historically connected with farm servants going from house to house in villages collecting sausages, eggs and bacon, which was consumed in a festivity on the same evening. While going from house to house they wore masks and made noise. The old tradition vanished in many places, in other places under influence of German carnival traditions it came to resemble carnival with its parades.
The carnival season, aka the “5th Season”, begins annually on Nov 11 at 11:11 am and finishes on Ash Wednesday of the following year with main festivities happening around Rosenmontag (Rose Monday). The actual carnival week starts on Weiberfasnacht, the Thursday before Aschermittwoch (Ash Wednesday). The big German carnival parades are held on the weekend before and especially on Rosenmontag, the day before Faschingsdienstag (Shrove Tuesday) in February. There are essentially 2 distinct variations of Karneval: the Rhenish version in the Western part of Germany, centered around Düsseldorf, Cologne and Mainz, and the Alemannic / Swabian Fastnacht in Schwaben, Southwestern Germany.