19 Feb /15


Carnival - Word of the day - EVS Translations
Carnival – Word of the day – EVS Translations

In the last weeks part of the world was in a carnival fever – from what is considered to be the biggest carnival in the world – the Rio Janeiro carnival samba fever, through Germany’s Rosenmontag to the special colors of the Venice carnival.

The festivity can be traced back to the three days’ festival of Dionysus in Ancient Greece and the seven days of ancient Rome’s Saturnalia – the festival celebrating Saturn.

Though the origin of the meaning of the term carnival is debatable, it is a fact that the festivity marks the start of the period when Catholics are not allowed to eat meat – “Carnem levare”. No wonder the seat of the Catholic Church houses the what is believed to be the most picturesque festival in the world. The Carnival of Venice is believed to have started from a victory of the republic of Venice against the Roman Patriarch of Aquileia in the year of 1162 which people celebrated by dances and festivity in San Marco Square. The Venetian government made the carnival official in 1296 when the day before Lent was officially declared as a day of festivity.

And up to nowadays, when the Catholic world preparing for Lent celebrates the last meat-full dishes and festive times with grand street parades and masquerades, as traditionally the Lent period is considered a no-party one.

The first written references in the English language, of course and without a surprise, come from descriptions of the Italian festivity, from the History of Italy, 1549 by William Thomas and 1565 Works of John Jewel: “The Italians call the first week in Lent the Carnival”.

And the first description in the English language of the grandiosity of the Carnival in Venice comes from 16484, The diary of John Evelyn:”Shrovetide (the first day of Lent), when all the world repaire to Venice to see the folly & madness of the Carnival”.

From Italy, carnival traditions spread to the Catholic Spain, Portugal and France and from there to North America and the Caribbean and Latin America. In the early 19th century the carnival fever hit Germany as well. And the Caribbean immigrants brought the festive traditions with them to the UK.