Carnival History, Kanaval

Hundreds and hundreds of years ago, the Catholics in Italy started the tradition of holding a wild costume festival right before the first day of Lent. In the olden days, Catholics were not supposed to eat meat during Lent and they called their festival, "carnevale" -- which means "to put away the meat." Gradually this practice became popular and the practice spread to France, Spain, and all the Catholic countries in Europe. With the European colonial powers or where the European Catholics entered into the slave trade, the carnival took root and thus the practice came to the Americas and other parts of the world. Important to Caribbean and Haitian festivals are the practice of African traditions where people parade and move in circles through villages in costumes and masks, because they believe circling the village bring good fortune, heal problems, chill out angry relatives who had died and passed into the next world. They use the feathers on masks and headdresses as a symbol of ability to overcome problems, illness, pains, heartbreaks, to grow spiritually and reborn to a new better life. Their drums and music traditions have also transformed the early carnival celebrations in the Americas.


According to some historians, the carnival was originally a Greek spring festival in honor of the god of wine, Dionysus. The Romans adopted the same tradition with a feast in honor of Bacchus, the Roman god of wine, and Saturnalia into a festival preceding the beginning of Lent. However, what has evolved ultimately is a mass celebration of indulgences in music, food, drink and dance, something which the Church may not ever have in mind.

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