What is the Meaning of Carnival

Carnival is one of the most significant and festive celebrations of all those that take place throughout the year, also closely linked in some countries with Lent. A time of costumes and celebrations with parades and floats, butwhat is the meaning of carnival? We reveal it below.

Meaning of Carnival

The meaning of Carnival can have a lot relation to Lent and although this is the explanation that has gone down in history due to its link with Christianity and religion, the truth is that it seems that, in its most primary origin, the carnival was already celebrated by other peoples such as the egyptians or the sumerians Around 5,000 years ago, and later, it became popular as a pagan festival in honor of Bacchus, the God of wine.

The authors who defend the appearance of the carnival as a Pagan party claim that the name of the holiday does not come from the term «carnem levare» (remove the meat) alluding to the three days prior to Easter and the fasting season in which meat was not eaten, but could come from other gods and cultures, such as the goddess Carna of Celtic mythology or the god Karna from Indian mythology.

In any case, it was a party where a certain permissiveness reigns and that, initially, it was a parade with costumes. The celebration has evolved to what is known as carnival today, adopting the traditions and customs of each particular place.

As most of you already know, carnival is celebrated during the month of februaryY in 2020 it will be Friday the 22nd (In some cases carnivals can last several days.

What is the origin of Carnival

But what is the true meaning of Carnival? We all know what he is carnival, a festival in which young and old go out into the streets in costume to enjoy parties and parades. In carnival everyone can be whoever or whatever they want without fear of ridicule. However, almost all of us celebrate carnival, but do we know where this party comes from?

When you have to explain where Carnival comes from, you have to talk about cultures, beliefs and traditions. all mixing for more than 2,000 years, resisting changes, adapting to them. Chaos, cultural maelstrom, fusion of customs, that is Carnival.

People say that the name of the carnival comes from the Latin term that I have already mentioned «carnem-levare» which would come to mean something like “abandon meat” or “goodbye to meat”. However, as we will see later, it is not clear that this is its original origin.

technically speaking, Carnival is the Christian period that begins on the day of the Epiphany (at the end of January 6 the Parties) and the Ash Wednesday (start of the Lent, time for reflection and abstinence). The dates vary depending on the celebration of the Easter every year (which in turn depends on the lunar movement!), but common sense floods these celebrations, and without so much scholarly calculation, the most spectacular celebrations are centered on the month of february.

Carnival is a time, then, that opposes the deprivation of Lent, it is the time to eat, drink, and feast.

Originally, it was the Romans who dedicated a few days in February to “honor” the god Faun (Pan, in Greek), a character related to the chaotic Dionysus.

Like many Roman customs (for example, the Christmas celebration), this too became part of the body of Christian traditions, when the first Christians found that it was easier to evangelize the masses if some of their most deeply rooted customs were respected.

It was thus that the Roman carnival was adopted by Christianity, and hand in hand with religion, it reached every corner of Europe and, logically, its American colonies.

In the coloniesto this Roman and Christian nature of Carnivalwe must add the American one, which with the force of the prehispanic culturesY African American (through the slave trade), was reconsidered, with new and rich components provided by the native peoples.

SoCarnival is never the same in all cities. Although the Fathers of the Church once fixed the technical characteristics of the period prior to the Lenteach town made it its own in practice, celebrating it with its traditions, giving it its local color.

Today the The most famous carnivals are celebrated in Venice, Spain, and South America, especially in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and, in them, the religious aspect can hardly be detected. It is a great celebration of culture, where religion has its place, but only as one more element –and not central- among the many that make it up day by day. In reality, religion has remained in the background in many carnivals, where partying, fun and even provocation and mockery of famous figures reign.

Who is the inventor of carnivals

We have already seen what Carnival means and its origin, but you may also want to know who is the inventor of Carnival in the sense of who began to celebrate those known as carnivals, just as we celebrate them today.

Although the relationship of Carnival with an origin in Rome is true, it also seems that in Ancient Egypt there were already celebrations related to Carnival, although it will not be until the Middle Ages when the party begins to take shape in such a way that it is the origin of how we know Carnival today.

In this way, we can say that it was hundreds of years ago, when the followers of the Catholic religion in Italy started the tradition of holding a wild costume festival just before the first day of Lent and in fact they are considered “Inventors of Carnival”.

As we have seen before, the Catholics should not eat meat during Lent, so they decided to call their festival carnival , which means “save the meat”. Over time, carnivals in Italy became very famous; and, in fact, the practice spread to France, Spain and all the Catholic countries of Europe. Then, when the French, Spanish, and Portuguese began to take control of the Americas and other parts of the world, they brought with them their tradition of celebrating carnival in Latin America (Carnivals of Rio de Janeiro) and even the United States (Carnivals of New Orleans). ).

In this way, the concept of Carnival or Carnevale as we know it today, we can say that it starts in Venice in 1094. During the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, Carnival celebrations were popular throughout Europe. From Venice, performances by actors, acrobats and musicians were given, with residents wearing elaborate masks and elegant costumes during a celebration that lasted for a week and that ended up influencing other carnivals around the world.

Video about the carnival

Below we show you a video in which you can see the party that is set up at the Rio de Janeiro Carnival in all its splendor, without a doubt one of the parties that we should go to once in our lives if we have the opportunity.

Links of interest
In Superhistory we have many other articles with information about some of the most important celebrations and festivities around the world. Take a look at these posts: