What is Carnival?
Carnival is a three-day celebration that takes place in countries with a Christian tradition just before Lent begins. It is characterized by the use of colorful costumes and masks, as well as dances, parades and troupes.
The dates to celebrate Carnival are variable between February and March, depending 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 one Sunday to the following Tuesday. However, the most important day is Carnival Tuesday, just before Ash Wednesday.
The word Carnival derives from the Italian carnevale, formerly carnelevare, which in turn is made up of the words carne which means “meat” and, it is worth “removing”.
Therefore, Carnival means “farewell to the meat”, since for the next 40 days, throughout Lent until Easter, Christians avoid eating red meat.
Origin of the Carnival
Carnival does not have a certain origin. Carnival derives from a group of ancient festivals performed by the Sumerians and Egyptians, the latter to the god Apis, by a group of researchers approximately 5000 years ago.
However, most consider that Carnival dates back to pagan festivals that the Romans performed in honor of the god Bacchus (god of wine).
As the Roman Empire expanded, various traditions and festivals 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 relate the Carnival with the festivities of the old agricultural towns in order to consume all those perishable foods collected for the winter and that they had not yet considered exhausted before spring.
Carnivals in the world
The Carnival is characterized by the use of costumes, masks, caravans and dances, as well as being a few days dedicated almost exclusively to celebrating, even excessively 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 one of Santa Cruz de Tenerife and the Nice Carnival in France stand out.
For its part, in America among the most famous and visited Carnival festivals are those of Brazil in Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and Salvador de Bahía. Also in the United States the Carnival of New Orleans is recognized, and in Colombia the Carnival of Barranquilla.
For its part, in Mexico carnival is also celebrated in various cities, among the most prominent are the Autlán Carnival, the Huejotzingo Carnival (Puebla) and the Tlaxcala Carnival, among others.
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 by way of criticism or mockery.
This custom is almost as old as carnival and derives from the idea of passing through anonymity, sharing, celebrating and playing to hide identities behind masks and costumes.
During Carnival people celebrate freely because later, especially Christians, they enter a process of abstinence and reflection in which the celebrations are left aside.