That's the German word for Carnival or Mardi Gras. (It's been going on here for centuries, so the folks in New Orleans imported/copied the Old World.)
It starts on the 11th of November (11th month, get it?) at 11 a.m. and runs until Shrove Tuesday (the day before Ash Wednesday, for all you non-Christian, lapsed Christian, or disinterested folks). Many towns have Carnival clubs, which are huge social affairs.
Festivities reach a climax (the wider population beyond club members) during the week before the end. Incidents of drunk driving, loss of license, and indecent behavior rise to annual peaks. It is time to act stupidly with impunity (except getting caught driving with too much alcohol in the blood). Silly costumes (wiht an occasional clever one) are mandatory. Groping of the opposite sex outside of wedlock is permitted and, perhaps even expected. Germans are normally rather stiff and humorless. The larger Carnival clubs broadcast their annual Sitzung (meeting, which is really a big show with a lot of drinking). These shows include skits and monologues, which roast politicians, businesses, and daily life. Irony has been witnessed. Some are rather clever. No one is safe from ridicule, until everyone turns back into pumpkins at midnight on the eve of Ash Wednesday.
As a bonus, below is a photograph of my wife, for anyone that might wonder what she looks like (since she has been mentioned in earlier posts.) She dresses like this infrequently, but entertains all year.
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Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.