In Germany the time is set for Carnival season#s peak next weekend.
From "Fat Thursday" over the weekend#s parades in the cities along the Rhine, to "Death of Prince Carnival" on "Fat Tuesday" and washing out the purse on the shore of a river or in the fountain on the marketplace on Ash Wednesday, it spans a lot of customs.
Many are related to Roman and Greek festivals, which had been hold in February - the Lupercalia. The months name itself stems from the custom of cutting the skin of the sacrificed animals (goats and a black dog, who represented winter) into throngs used as whip cords --> the februae.
Girls and women stood on the sides of the processional routes to get a quickening with these whips, carried by the priests of Faunus and Lupercus.
Lupercalia was a weeklong holiday around the ides of February (13-15th) that honoured the God Lupercus. Lupercus was a fertility god, granting full bellies to human women and full fields of harvest to the men. The holiday centered around this god could be considered typical of Roman excess.
Like Mardi Gras today patrons gorged on delicious foods, drank a little too much, and honored the god’s gift of fertility by indulging in pleasures of the flesh.
Bacchantic rituals for Dionysos were also held during that period, blending the greek festival of the god of dance, wine, ecstasy and theatre/mask play with roman traditions.
Part of these customs went into "St. Valentine#s Day" also, which wasn#t very popular with the clergy.
It was the last of winter festivals, that started with Saturnalia in mid-December.
Similar rites are known from southern Germany (Alps) where hazel rods are still used for the quickening, a tree formerly sacred to Thor, who was primarily a fertility god, with goats as his symbol.
In Germany some customs on "Fat Thursday" have feministic origins: The wives of the festival committee#s members wanted to have women participate in carnival activities, so "Weiberfasnacht" was born in 1824. On this day women cut ties of unsuspecting men - so beware! A bit Dionysian fears for the men folk … lol!
Burying "Prince Carnival" or burning an effigy on the last day of the festivities is a custom to drive the Winter away, which is more celtic/germanic and reminiscent of Imbolc.