Historically the 40 days of Lent would start on Wednesday at midnight and continue until Easter.
Nowadays it is still the official ending of Carnaval, though some Carnaval activities such as herring eating are traditionally held on Wednesday after Carnaval.
The selected livestock had in fact already been slaughtered in November and the meat would be no longer preservable.
All the food that had survived the winter had to be eaten to assure that everyone was fed enough to survive until the coming spring would provide new food sources.
Germania 9.6: Ceterum nec cohibere parietibus deos neque in ullam humani oris speciem adsimulare ex magnitudine caelestium arbitrator – "The Germans, however, do not consider it consistent with the grandeur of celestial beings to confine the gods within walls, or to liken them to the form of any human countenance."Germania 40: mox vehiculum et vestis et, si credere velis, numen ipsum secreto lacu abluitur – "Afterwards the car, the vestments, and, if you like to believe it, the divinity herself, are purified in a secret lake." The elaborate rites involving masked figures in the Swabian-Alemannic carnaval might have had an influence on the different aspects of the feast.
The Swabian-Alemannic carnaval, known as Fastnacht, takes place in Baden and Swabia (Southwestern Germany), Switzerland, Alsace and Vorarlberg (Western Austria).
Many people in modern times do not relate the holiday at all with religion, but its date is still set before the start of the Christian season of Lent.