Coming from the Latin word carnem (raise), Carnival literally means “farewell to meat”; and it identifies the catholic tradition of 40 days fasting (Lent) before Easter.
To discover its origins, we need to throw back ourselves in the middle ages where Carnival was a period of feast which overlapped with the beginning of the harvest year, that’s why they were celebrating the land’s fertility.
It was characterized by a complete disorderliness; the social hierarchy was trampled and behind the masks, there were neither employees nor boss. Everyone was his own chief and then was allowed to enjoy freely, having food and pleasures without limits.
The true identity was hidden behind a different face.
Celebrations were concluded with the destruction of one puppet that represented the evils of the last year and its sad ending was closing the period of uncontrolled festivities.
With Christianity, the Carnival lost its ritual character and became purely a common feast up till our days, where most of the people don’t look at its origin and consider it as a popular entertainment.
The starting day of the Carnival varies from one country to another; the most important rejoicing take place on the Fat Thursday and the Shrove Tuesday, that is the last Thursday and the last Tuesday before the beginning of the Lent.
It’s a feast made of parades where overrule colours, lights, music and unrestrained choreographies; There are a lot of floats; people disguise, wear masks and form crowds.
In many countries unfortunately (or fortunately), the rule is still: “everything is allowed”.
CARNIVAL IN THE WORLD:
THE MOST FAMOUS, THE MOST PECULIAR AND THE MOST… EXCENTRIC!
France: Nice Carnival (Carnaval de Nice)
From Nice, we start with a hard taste left by the dramatic even happened recently that touched all of us. Today, let’s remember its antic and famous carnival which brings joy and cheerfulness to the numerous tourists going there each year. They are all fascinated by this wonderful city full of perfumes and the well-known floral heritage.
The so called “Flower Battles” taking place at the river and creating a unique scenario, the floats parades and the non-missing disguises are the symbols of that festival.
On the Shrove Tuesday takes place the huge exhibition of masks and floats parade which is escorted by a burning crowd. The enjoyment goes on till the night and ends up by the stake of the King Carnival, the big show of the fireworks and the ball at the Hotel Plaza. That’s how the famous Nice Carnival is concluded.
During the same period, the Palais des Expositions hosts the beer feast with music, dance and typical candies.
Carnival in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)
Here we are in Brazil; there is the Carnival by Excellency!
The Rio Carnival is known all over the world and attracts millions of tourists coming from every single part of the globe. The official beginning of the festival is given by the city mayor and it starts with a triumph of music, colours and dance.
At the centre of all, there are schools of samba; they organize parades and incredible exhibitions in the huge sambodrome of the city; at that period it’s the main tourist activity in Brazil.
For four days, each school shows off and flies out the spectators in a whirl of music and dance. At the end of the enjoyment, one school is proclaimed winner.
It’s really a show that calls forth liberty, spontaneity, colour and splendour. Actually, it’s a must for the lovers of the national Brazilian dance, let me name the Samba.
ITALY: Carnival of Venice
The Carnival of Venice is one of the most famous in the world. Incredible touristic event, it’s an appointment thousands of people don’t miss each year.
During the Carnival, you will be throw back in time, you will be amazed by the elegance of the old clothes and the perfectly shaped masks which allow this festival to be unique with a funny but gracious atmosphere.
ITALY: Carnival of Viareggio
From the end of the year 800, the people of Viareggio were already starting to celebrate the Carnival parading with majestic floats of high quality papier-mâché, accompanied all along the main street by groups of masked dancers.
Music, flowers and a lot of wreaths encircle that area which hosts a moment that became historically important; Since then, in Viareggio, the Carnival is celebrated in the same way and dragons throwing away fire and caricatures of Italian politicians never miss.
Children, enthusiasts and rejoicing, are also part of the party. That’s why it’s a Carnival where entire families can take part!
We are in Germany. In Cologne, we like to talk about the carnival as if it was the fifth season of the year. The 11th November, at 11:11 am, the Carnival starts with the nomination of three main figures: the Prince, the Farmer and the Virgin.
This day is entirely dedicated to women who take over the town and are allowed to do whatever they want to men.
Seen as true enemies for all the day, men are captured by their partners who cut their ties and ask them for a bützen, a kiss on the cheek; it’s a kind of custom which entertains all.
The spirit of the carnival is temporary suspended until late February of the next year.
The festivities last for numerous days but it’s only during the three days before the Shrove Tuesday, that the Karneval becomes a popular phenomenon with beer as desired in all the taverns and even with toasts in the streets.
Carnival of Tenerife
After one month of festivities extremely diffused, that festival which attracts a lot of visitors, ends with the celebration and the crowning of the Carnival Queen; even if the real conclusion is given by the common… do it!
Carnival of New Orleans, United States of America
Each year, the rejoicing are more and more huge and are full of floats parades and people with coloured masks who paint the St. Charles Avenue!
Trinidad and Tobago Carnival
Warm and sympathy are the key words of this Carnival!
During colonization, it was the only moment where citizens could laugh at powerful people without censure.
Laugh, games, music and a lot of Rum characterize the festivities on the tropical island of Trinidad at the large of the Venezuelan coast. There, people welcome tourists with dance and joyful parades in masks!
Notting Hill Carnival, London
Tradition exactly coming from Trinidad, the Carnival in Notting Hill is celebrated by the Caribbean community of the city.
All along the streets, there are a lot of people dancing on samba rhythm and eating typical Caribbean food. The area is warmed and full of lights and coloured clothes (even if skimpy) wore by the… feast players!
Now, it’s up to you to make those costums and traditions yours!
Book and fly to one destination that will offer you an UNIQUE Carnival!
“Man is least himself when he talks in his own name. Give him a mask,
and he will tell you the truth.”
This post is also available in: Italiano