In the city of Cologne in Germany, where I was born, the carnival season starts on the 11th day of the 11th month at 11 minutes after 11 am. Of course it doesn’t really get going until the week before Ash Wednesday in February when there are big parties and parades. Between November 11th and February people get together at fund raisers and vote for the three men who will represent the traditional carnival triumvirate – the prince, the farmer and the virgin…..and yes, the virgin is a man in woman’s clothing.

The public carnival season starts in the Morning of the Thursday before Ash Wednesday, when the women of Cologne meet by the thousands in front of the city hall and are officially given the key to the city by the mayor. On that day women roam the streets, singing, and partying. They sometimes wield scissors and cut off passing men’s ties. Cologne is famous for its carnival and it’s quite an experience.