We believe that Festivals of Culture are the mirrors we all use to see our own humanity reflected in the behavior of others
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- What is Carnival?
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 colonization 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 its successful proliferation in so many countries, with so many different languages it has many different ways of being spelt such as Carnelevare, Carnevale, Carnavale, Carnaval, Carnivale, Carnival, Karnival, Kanaval and Kanival.
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