Meaning of Carnival - encyclopedia - 2023
What is Carnival:
Carnival is a three-day celebration that takes place in countries of Christian tradition just before the start of Lent. It is characterized by the use of costumes and colorful masks, as well as by dances, parades and comparsas.
The dates to celebrate the Carnival are variable between February and March, it depends on the liturgical calendar. Therefore, Carnival is connected with Lent, a time of fasting, reflection and abstinence for Christians in which the Resurrection of Jesus Christ is commemorated.
Carnival is usually celebrated from a Sunday until the following Tuesday. However the most important day is Shrove Tuesday, just before Ash Wednesday.
The word Carnival derives from Italian carnevale, formerly I will carry, in turn composed of the words meat which means "meat" and, okay "put off".
Therefore, Carnival means "farewell to the meat", since for the next 40 days, throughout Lent until Easter, Christians avoid eating red meat.
See also Lent.
Origin of Carnival
The carnival does not have a certain origin. A group of researchers consider that Carnival derives from a set of ancient festivities carried out by the Sumerians and Egyptians, the latter to the god Apis, approximately 5000 years ago.
However, most consider that Carnival dates back to pagan holidays performed by the Romans in honor of the god Bacchus (god of wine).
As the Roman Empire expanded, various traditions and festivities spread throughout Europe, including Carnival, which later became part of the cultural traditions in America after the Spanish and Portuguese conquests, but with new additions to pre-Hispanic culture.
On the other hand, Carnival is not considered by the Church as a religious celebration, less when it involves a set of behaviors, sometimes not very modest.
Also, it is worth mentioning that there are those who associate Carnival with the festivities of the ancient agricultural peoples in order to consume all those perishable foods collected for winter and that they still did not consider exhausted before spring.
Carnivals in the world
The Carnival is characterized by the use of costumes, masks, caravans and dances, as well as, for being a few days dedicated almost exclusively to celebrating, even in an excessive way by many people. However, in each country or city Carnival is celebrated in a particular way.
Among the most famous carnivals are the Venice Carnival in Italy and with its beautiful masks, in Spain the Santa Cruz de Tenerife and the Nice Carnival in France stand out.
For its part, in America, among the most famous and visited Carnival parties are those of Brazil in Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and Salvador de Bahia. The New Orleans Carnival is also recognized in the United States, and the Barranquilla Carnival in Colombia.
For its part, in Mexico carnival is also celebrated in various cities, among the most prominent are the Carnival of Autlán, the Carnival of Huejotzingo (Puebla) and the Carnival of Tlaxcala, among others.
See also 6 key images to understand Carnival in the world.
Masks and costumes
In carnivals it is common for both children and adults to dress up as their favorite character or a famous person such as a politician, singer, actor, among others, generally as a critic or mockery.
This custom is almost as old as carnival and derives from the idea of going through anonymity, sharing, celebrating and playing to hide identities behind masks and costumes.
During Carnival, people celebrate freely because then, especially Christians, enter a process of abstinence and reflection in which the celebrations are put aside.
See also Why we dress up at Carnival.