Hopping in for German Carnival

These women dressed as frogs were part of several hundred "fools" celebrating the launch of the Carnival season in Mainz, western Germany, on Saturday.

The Carnival is a season of controlled raucous fun that reaches a climax during the days before Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent, in February next year.

The western part of Germany is especially famous for its celebrations that comprise parades, hand-made costumes and pranks.

In many parts of the country, people mark the official start of the Carnival at 11.11am on the 11th day of the 11th month with the meeting of the "Council of Eleven" - the council of a kingdom of fools - a German tradition dating from 1823.

In the city of Mainz, Carnival season opens with cries of the Carnival call "Helau" and the Narhallamarsch, a traditional German Carnival tune. The "Narrancharta" or "jester's charter" is read, followed by colourful stage performances.

The city's Carnival is known for its political and literary influences, with elaborate floats poking fun at the past year's news events and people donning costumes parodying local and global political figures.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 13, 2017, with the headline 'Hopping in for German Carnival'. Print Edition | Subscribe