Winter was thought of as the reign of the winter spirits; these needed to be driven out in order for the summer to return.
Elaborate costumes and masks allow people to set aside their everyday individuality and experience a heightened sense of social unity.
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.
Tacitus wrote in his Germania: 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." In many Christian sermons and texts, the example of a vessel is used to explain Christian doctrine: "the nave of the church of baptism", "the ship of Mary", etc.
The writings show that processions with ship-like carts were held and lavish feasts were celebrated on the eve of Lent or the greeting of spring in the early Middle Ages.
The Lenten period of the liturgical calendar, the six weeks directly before Easter, was historically marked by fasting, study, and other pious or penitential practices.