Carnival – Shrove Tuesday – Mardi Gras

Carne vale (farewell to the flesh) – people love it or hate it!

Lent (Latin for Fortieth) is a religious observance in the Christian liturgical calendar that begins on Ash Wednesday and ends approximately six weeks (40 days) later on Holy Saturday, the day before Easter Sunday. The purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer for Easter through prayer, doing penance, mortifying the flesh, repentance of sins, almsgiving, and denial of ego. Carnival is the period of overindulgence before Lent, a sort of last chance to party. Shrove Tuesday is the last day before Lent and usually falls between February 3 and March 9. It has many names, including Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras, the Tuesday of Carnival, and Pancake Day. The origin of the traditions usually controversial and some of them survive even in places where Lent is no longer observed.

Some world-famous Carnival events

Carnival in Venice

The most distinguishing feature of the Venetian celebration is the extensive use of masks. The idea behind them is that you cannot tell the social status of the person wearing one, so everyone is equal during Carnival.

Carnival in Rio de Janeiro

The Portuguese brought the practice of Carnival to Brazil around 1850. However, the Brazilians added in elements from African and indigenous cultural backgrounds. Thus, Carnival in Brazil eventually incorporated lots of parades, elaborate costumes, music, dancing and balls.

Carnival in Cologne

The Cologne Carnival is a Rhenish folk festival in Germany, which is one of the largest and best known carnival festivals worldwide. Thursday is the Women’s Carnival Day. From very early in the morning, all the streets are filled with ladies wearing fancy-dress in their normal day to day lives.

Mardi Gras in New Orleans

The city is known for its extensive schedule of parades, each organized by a local club which either has got a long-term tradition or brings a more modern sense of fun to the celebration.

Further peculiar customs

Battle of the Oranges in Ivrea, Italy

A battle reenactment turns into one of the world’s largest food fights. It recreates the 12th-century overthrow of the town’s tyrannical baron by commoners. For three days the baron’s men parade into town on carts, where they are pelted with 400 tons of oranges brought in from Sicily. They fight back, too. It takes a crew of 100 workers to clean up the orange mess every day.

The Burial of the Sardine in Murcia, Spain

A satirical funeral procession is held for a fish, either real or an effigy, and the funeral is supposed to symbolize the death of self-indulgence as well as the burying of one’s past in order to have a better future. The origin is said to be the time Charles III of Spain gave commoners sardines to celebrate Carnival, but the day was hot and the sardines went bad, so they had to be buried to get rid of the smell.

Fastelavn in Denmark

Children dress in costumes and collect candy, much like trick-or-treating. There is also a pinata-like game called „beat the cat out of the barrel.“ Nowadays, the barrel is full of candy and not cats, but the roots of the tradition are in the idea of winter as a black cat that had to be driven away before spring could arrive. The child who cracks the barrel open is crowned the „Cat Queen,“ while the one who knocks down the last piece of the barrel is the „Cat King.“

Powder Day in Tolox, Spain

Residents and visitors take great enjoyment in throwing talcum powder at each other until everyone is completely covered. Legend has it that the ritual was born when two women working in a bakery, one Christian and one Moorish, got into a fight over a man and began flinging flour at each other.

Entrudo in Portugal

In centuries past, this festival included street brawls in which participants threw mud, food, or lemon juice at each other. The holiday is celebrated in Lisbon with lively parades and floats, but in the town of Lazarim the day unfolds in a more traditional style, with a mocking poetry reading followed by a parade of townsfolk in traditional wooden masks and the burning of effigies.

Whether you celebrate Fastnacht, Carnival, Fasching or none of them – we appreciate to send you a warm Alaaf, Helau or Lei lei (the most famous German and Austrian “fools calls”) and wish you all the best for your plans for the fasting period!

Foto: © DisobeyArt – 318517674 – Happy dressed people … – stock.adobe.com