BERLIN, Feb. 28 (Xinhua) -- As the so-called "fifth season of the year", carnival has started in large parts of Germany on Thursday and will continue to fill streets and town halls with colorfully dressed-up celebrants and masquerades until next Tuesday.
The largest carnival hotspots in Germany are located along the river Rhine in western Germany. In the cities of Cologne, Bonn, Duesseldorf and Mainz several hundred thousand people are expected to celebrate the German carnival which traditionally marks the final days before the start of the Christian Lent.
"Carnival enables people to slip out of their everyday role and lets them better empathize with other people," Michael Kramp, press spokesman of the Cologne carnival festival committee, told Xinhua on Thursday. In addition, carnival "humorously draws attention to social problems".
Every year, carnival in Germany formally starts on a Thursday at 11:11 am local time with the so-called "women's carnival", during which women symbolically take over public life for one day, according to medieval custom. In many German cities, woman "storm" local town halls and, as a sign of their supremacy, cut off the ties of men on this day.
During the carnival season, people dress up and celebrate at the numerous carnival processions which travel through cities and throw huge amounts of sweets to the watching masses. The Cologne Carnival 2019 festival committee expects more than 200 wagons to travel along the nearly 7.5 km-long carnival route, distributing a total of around 300 tons of sweets.
Big figures and sceneries on the wagons are presenting local, national and global issues from politics, sport and society in an exaggerated and satirical way during the processions.
In 2018, more than two thirds of the carnival products imported to Germany came from China, the German federal statistical office (Destatis) announced earlier this week. Last year, Germany imported carnival and entertainment articles with a total value of 98.1 million euros.