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Caribbean Carnival: it's origin, history and present

In the calendar of all peoples certain days have been set aside for special religious or secular observance, or as possessing a special character. Among these days, some have remained primarily religious in character, some of which were once of religious or superstitious significance, are no longer so but remain as special days. In many countries celebrations of Carnival are special days and have become the greatest popular cultural manifestation. It is a mixture of fun, party and theater, which involves art and folklore. It basically comes up as a street party but is also celebrated in closed spaces such as clubs.

Where did Carnival come from?
Hundreds of years ago followers of the Catholic religion in Italy started the tradition of holding a wild costume festival right before Lent. Because Catholics are not supposed to eat meat during Lent, they called their festival, 'carnevale'-which means "to put away meat." As time passed, carnivals in Italy became quite famous. The practice spread to France, Spain and Portugal. As these Catholic countries began to take control of the Americas and other parts of the world, they brought with them their
tradition of celebrating Carnival.

Carnival in the Caribbean
In many parts of the world, where Catholic Europeans set up colonies and entered into slave trade, carnival took root. Today Carnival celebrations are found throughout the Caribbean. Traditions of the cultures have come together and especially African dance and music traditions transformed the early European carnival traditions in the Americas. Important to the Caribbean festival arts are the ancient African traditions of parading and moving in circles through villages in costumes and masks. These traditions were believed to bring good fortune, to heal problems and chill out angry spirits. Caribbean carnival traditions also borrow from the African culture the tradition of creating pieces of sculpture, masks and costumes. For the Caribbean people carnival became an important way to express their rich cultural traditions. It takes many months of coming up with a theme or overall concept and developing costumes for the dancers. Lots of creativity, energy and patience is put into work such as welding, painting, sewing, gluing, applying feathers, sequins and glitter. Carnival groups, entertained by music orchestras, parade and dance wearing costumes depicting a common theme. 

Carnival Celebrations
When Carnival first began it was celebrated from December 26 until Shrove Tuesday (the day before Ash Wednesday). Nowadays Carnival festivities and activities are being held year-round in the Caribbean. The dates on which Carnival celebrations such as; music competitions, festivals, concerts, street 'jump-up's', beauty pageants, balls, parades etc. take
place may vary from country to country, from island to island. For days, sometimes weeks, the people of the Caribbean express themselves socially and artistically and sheer joy with visitors from all over the world. Everyone, including the spectators, is part of the celebrations. Carnival is the way to celebrate life!

Related Links:

- All Ha We -History

 Caribbean Carnival

- Antigua
- Aruba
- Barbados Crop Over
- Curacao
- Cayman Islands
- Dominican Republic
- Haiti
- Jamaica
- Saint Kitts & Nevis
- Saint Lucia
- Saint Thomas
- Saint Vincent
- Sint Maarten

 Curaçao Carnival

UK Caribbean Carnival

- Carnivalnet
- Carnival Grooves
- Leicester Caribbean Carnival
- Nottinghill Carnival

Features Book


Bacchanal: The Carnival Culture of Trinidad

by Peter Mason

Global Carnival

- Brazil
- Caribana - Toronto Carnival
- Carnaval.com
- Houston Caribbean Festival

- Miami Caribbean Carnival
- Netherlands
- West Indian American Day Carnival Association

  

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