Colorful celebrations are about to begin! All around the world, countries are preparing for Carnival or Mardi-Gras. This period before Lent has turned into a spectacular event, with a week or month-long celebrations in some parts of the world. Carnival refers to the period of feasting and fun that begins on January 6th, the Feast of the Epiphany. For the Church of England, this is referred to as the Twelfth Night. While there are some slight differences in celebrations, almost all Pre-Lenten holidays have remarkable costumes and masks, an emphasis on bright colors, and elaborate parades and dances. Mardi-Gras may be celebrated around the world, but there are places that top the list for going above and beyond in their celebrations. In the US, New Orleans is the biggest and most popular destination for this celebration. Outside the US, Rio De Janeiro in Brazil and France top the list for grand Mardi-Gras festivities.
For most Americans, New Orleans is considered the epitome of Mardi-Gras. New Orleans Mardi-Gras combines elements of both the French and Brazilian Carnivals. The French emphasis on food combined with the Brazilian emphasis on the body creates a celebration of food and flesh. While colors are a big part of the celebration, New Orleans typically sticks to three main colors: purple for justice, green for faith, and gold for power. In New Orleans the festivities are about to start; the main parade and festival will take place Tuesday, February 17th.
In recent years, Carnival in Rio De Janeiro has become a top tourist destination. In fact, the majority of Brazil’s tourists come to experience Carnival. The festivities last for five days, officially starting on Friday, February 13th, and ending on Fat Tuesday. After Fat Tuesday one is supposed to abstain from all pleasures. Carnival, with all of its excesses, celebrates this farewell to the pleasures of the flesh. Since Brazil is in the Southern Hemisphere, February is one of the hottest months and costumes are dramatic. Carnival in Brazil includes more dancing and music in its celebrations. While New Orleans features Jazz bands, in Brazil, it is Samba.
Carnival and Mardi-Gras have been around for centuries, but the French were the first to accentuate it. The French enjoy the traditional parades and festivities, but the holiday is historically more of a celebration of food. The world “carnival” derives from the Latin “carnelevare” meaning “to take out the meat.” So, in preparation for dietary restrictions during Lent, the feast is grander in France. Doughnuts, waffles, beignets, and crepes are a must-have during this celebration.
For more information on Mardi-Gras and Carnival celebrations visit:
For New Orleans- http://www.mardigrasneworleans.com/
For Brazil- http://www.rio-carnival.net/
For France- http://www.france.fr/en/celebrations-and-festivals/mardi-gras.html