Bethlehem May |
Madrid (EFE).- Don Carnal asks for passage between Christmas and Holy Week and, although it is well known that Doña Cuaresma will end up imposing fasting and abstinence, millions of people all over the planet forget modesty and austerity. It is time for excesses… of all kinds.
According to the Royal Spanish Academy, the word carnival comes from the Italian “carnevale”, and this in turn from the Latin “carnelevare”, formed from “meat” and “levare”, which means to remove. Thus, the word Carnival refers to the farewell to meat, which cannot be eaten during Lent.
carnaval o carnevale derive from the Latin expression to lift the fleshthis is,
remove meat, the prohibition of eating meat during the forty days of Lent. He Shrove TuesdayOn the last day of Carnival, a banquet was also held in which meat was not lacking, a valuable opportunity to stock up on fat in the face of hunger that would arrive in a matter of hours.
If Lent is a time of fasting and physical and spiritual preparation for Easter, Carnival seems like a time for excess, sensuality and fun.
An ancient tradition
Historians associate the carnival with various Sumerian, Egyptian and Roman celebrations that took place at the transition from winter to spring, a time of change and flourishing once the winter sowing was over. The spring ‘equinox’ opened the door to a new fertility cycle.
During the Middle Ages, the Catholic Church adapted the holiday to its own calendar and made it the prelude to Lent, a period of penance and fasting for 40 days before Palm Sunday. For a few days before such a difficult test, a period of permissiveness began in which social criticism of everything established was rampant.
In those days of permitted paganism, the people hid under masks and costumes, parades, dances and feasts were held, bonfires burned and animals were sacrificed to attract fortune.
Why do we dress up?
Carnival is synonymous with disguise, with becoming who one is not and would like to be, even for a few hours. Originally the objective was to hide one’s own identity. A mask made it possible to abandon social differences and the mixture of the nobility with the common people. By the way, if it was about sin, better to remain anonymous.
Today the costume fulfills that role, but halfway. On many occasions it is an opportunity to adopt another personality and to fantasize, to have fun. It is about wasting color, brightness and in many cases, freedom.
Carnival around the world: the one in Rio, the most famous
The carnival in Rio de Janeiro is considered to be the largest on the planet and it is home to light, color and, of course, samba. The party arrived in Brazil at the hands of the Spanish and the Portuguese during the colonization and mixed with the native culture. The result attracts millions of people each year who look especially at the Sambódromo.
It is a stadium built especially for the parades of the carioca carnival. Designed by the Brazilian architect Óscar Niemeyer, it was inaugurated in 1984. The track measures 700 meters long by 13 meters wide and is flanked by grandstands and luxury boxes. For five nights, some 80,000 spectators enjoy the explosion of color and joy from the samba schools, which take more than an hour to cover the route under the watchful eyes of the judges.
However, not everything happens in the Sambadrome at the Rio carnival. In 2023, more than 400 bands and comparsas will parade spontaneously through the streets in what is known as the “Rúa Carnival”, which will mobilize some five million people in the city until February 26.
Faced with the explicit sensuality of the Brazilians, old Europe opts for elegance at the Venice carnival, which not only attracts thousands of visitors on those dates but also exploits its peculiar carnival aesthetic all year round in a multitude of ‘souvenirs’. It’s hard to spend a few hours in Venice without buying a mask, a t-shirt with a mask on it, a fridge magnet in the shape of a mask…
The mask is so characteristic of the Venice carnival because it served the nobility to mix with the people. In addition to streets full of characters who walk around hiding their faces and wearing the most luxurious clothing, it has events such as the “Flight of the Angel”, a jump from the bell tower of the Basilica of San Marcos, or the parade along the Grand Canal. .
Carnival in Spain
In Spain there are two carnivals declared by the Government a Festival of International Tourist Interest. They are the one in Santa Cruz de Tenerife and the one in Cádiz. During the dictatorships of Primo de Rivera and Franco, carnivals were prohibited in Spain, but both, along with that of Isla Cristina, in Huelva, continued to be celebrated under the name of “Winter Festivals”.
Glitter, horseback riding, music and lots of dancing are the ingredients of the chicharrero carnival. The Queen’s Election Gala is the real highlight and tickets for the event, with a capacity of more than 20,000 people, sell out in a matter of minutes when they go on sale. You have to be very quick if you want to see ‘in situ’ the extraordinary costumes of the candidates for Carnival Queen, who move an average of 400 kilos helped by some training wheels.
In Cádiz, carnival is synonymous with a sense of humor. The Gran Teatro Falla hosts the Official Contest of Groups. In it, chirigotas, comparsas, quartets and choirs have an open bar to criticize whatever is necessary, always with a lot of jokes. Nothing and no one is free to take a puja… or two or three.
In 2023, the contest began on January 19 with the children’s semifinals and lasts until February 17, when the Grand Final arrives, a marathon day of carnival ballads that is broadcast on television and lasts until the early hours of the next day. .
In any case, it is not necessary to have a ticket to enjoy the sarcasm of Cádiz, since the groups offer their art at street level for anyone who wants to laugh
Also worth mentioning is the Galician carnival, called Entroido, from the Latin entrance, which means entrance, referring to the fact that it gives way to Lent. In Galicia and in part of León it is also known by other names such as Antruejo, Antroito, Entruido, Entruejo or Entroxu. The most peculiar, those from the southern area of Ourense, with their traditional masks.
The Burial of the Sardine
On Ash Wednesday the party ends and it’s time to cry. And it is that a burial is celebrated, that of the sardine, a Spanish custom that has also been transferred to some Latin American countries. But since technically it is still Carnival time, this crying also comes out with irony.
As explained by the Alegre Brotherhood of the Burial of the Sardine on its website, the origin of this sad ceremony dates back to the 18th century, during the reign of Carlos III of Spain. Popular tradition tells that a consignment of rotten fish arrived in Madrid at that time in the markets and that the stench was such that the king ordered the burial of the fish on the banks of the Manzanares river. But it is an unconfirmed story.
What was buried, and it is dated, was a batch of pigs contaminated by the plague. At that time, sardines were the name given to the piece of bacon or bacon that the workers ate at lunchtime. It is believed that it was near the current Fuente de los Pajaritos in the Casa de Campo, in Madrid.
Today, hundreds of people from Madrid in mourning tearfully accompany the sardine to its last resting place from San Antonio de Florida.
Among all the sardine burials in Spain, the one in Murcia also stands out, declared of international tourist interest in 2006. Its origin dates back to 1851, when a group of students with black hoods and kitchen utensils walked the streets with a sardine that today reaches several meters in length.
In 2019, he broke his record of participants with a million mourners saying goodbye to the sardine, the costumes and Don Carnal… but only until next year.