Neujahr, or New Year, is a celebration on January 1st to bring in the new year and put the last year behind you.
The night before New year's day is called Silvester in Germany. (it's named after pope Silvester I) Much like in the United States, people have parties and stay up until midnight to bring in the new year with fireworks.
It used to be tradition on New Years to throw an egg over your house and where ever it landed you buried it. This was thought to bring good luck.
In Germany Mardi Gras is called Fashing or Karneval. Because Karneval is a catholic holiday it's mostly celebrated in the southern states. (The northern states are mostly Protestant and the southern states are mostly catholic.) Karneval is a celebration before the fasting and religious activities of Lent. This festival lasts for an entire week. ("Green Thursday" until Ash Wednesday) Cities and towns have parades and carnivals and people dress up in costumes. (costumes similar to ones seen for American Halloween)
During the week some schools are closed and on businesses are usually closed on "Rose Monday". All of this celebration ends on Ash Wednesday, when Lent begins.
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