Welcome to the Carnevale Network, In this article we answer the question, why Carnival?.......but in order to answer this question we must first ask another question........
A Carnival is many things to many different people, it is:
A Catholic festival
A public street party
A celebration of freedom
A celebration of humanity
A celebration of creativity
A national festival
A cultural festival
Carnival is all this and more.....
Today Carnivals are celebrated in over 50 countries and began as a pagan festival in ancient Egypt to celebrate the end of winter and the coming of Spring.
When Alexander the Great conquered Egypt, the Greeks adopted the Festival for themselves.
The Roman Empire assimilated the Festival from the Greeks and it soon became integrated into Christian religion to become the Festival called “Carne Vale”. “Carne” meaning “Meat” or “Flesh” and “Vale” meaning “Farewell”.
In the Catholic religion “Carne Vale” is the feast before the fast of Lent.
In Italy in the 18th century during the Carnival Season people would throw wildly indulgent fancy-dress parties and eat, drink and celebrate before the Fast.
As Christianity spread throughout the world through colonisation so to did the Carnival Celebration.
Portuguese colonists took Lent to the shores of Brazil, where they had also taken an estimated 4 million African slaves. Over time European rituals fused with African ones, to create Brazil’s world famous carnival.
The flamboyant street parties are a celebration of Brazil’s mixed heritage. And it’s big business. In 2016 the city of Rio alone welcomed 1.1 million tourists during carnival, contributing around $900 million to the city’s economy.
On the Caribbean island of Trinidad, the festival of Lent was introduced by French colonists. Slaves, excluded from these celebrations, created their own parties to the soundtrack of Calypso music, which mocked the French. This is now an integral part of Trinidad’s carnival.
In India carnival is only celebrated in the southern state of Goa, where Portuguese colonists ruled for over four centuries. Parades occur throughout the state with bands, dances, and floats.
In Barbados the Festival is known as Cropover and is a celebration connected to the end of the Islands agricultural harvest
Carnival is known as Mardi Gras in the American city of New Orleans and contributes over 2% to the city’s GDP
In the Bahamas their street festival is called the Junkanoo and in the Cayman Islands the Carnival is called Batabano
Carnival is not just a party in the sun. Quebec holds the third biggest carnival celebration in the world which brings us to the original Carnival.
Due to it's successful proliferation in so many countries, with so many different languages it has many different ways of being spelt such as:
From humble beginnings carnival has become a truly global celebration with millions of revellers taking part in the celebration. It represents one of the most popular celebrations on the planet and brings together huge groups of people both locally and internationally in a party that occurs right across the Island or Country that celebrates it.
Carnivals today include a collection of National and Local Events that span a seasonal period and culminate in a series of Parades on the last day of Carnival.
There is some variation between Carnivals due to the local culture and, depending upon the country, massive parades and street parties can often be found happening simultaneously in multiple locations including within the Capital City.
Contrary to popular belief a Carnivals Parade is not the Carnival itself as it is a Festival that spans a period of time that can last as short as a week or as long as a Month (Sometimes longer).
Preparation for some Carnival can take an entire year to complete with many individuals starting their preparations for the next carnival days or weeks after the end of the previous Carnival creating costumes, floats, music and elaborate world-class performances that have a representation, theme or a message that it communicates to onlookers or other participants of the Carnival.
For others Carnival is the time for the people to take to the streets and celebrate their national history, their culture or the wilder side of human nature that exist within the human spirit, but are supressed for much of the year in the interests of conformity and social harmony. Carnival offers the opportunity to release this pressure each year in a positve and expressive way that is accepted by all who participate. It is not uncommmon to see political messages or social issues or problems highlighted in costume, song or performance during the Festival season, placed in full view of the public in a Humourous, Cynical or Sardonic portayal of the subject.
Whilst many Carnivals take place during February and March due to it’s Christian influences you would be forgiven for thinking that this is the only time of year that Carnivals take place.
Many countries throughout the world celebrate their Carnival as a summer Festival, others commemorate important dates in which they attained Freedom or Independence whilst others celebrate Christmas or the end of the year with a national Carnival.
As a result Carnivals and other similar Festivals can be found all over the world and throughout the year, Carnivals are both beautiful and scary, thought provoking and mindless, sexy and seedy, carefree and hard work and chaotic whilst being well-organised, simple and complex, thoughtlessly instinctive and creatively imaginative.
Carnival successfully brings together all of these conflicting ingredients in one riotus event that has spread throughout the world far and wide………..the only question is which Carnival will YOU be attending next year!