I've wanted to get an article on this Blog about Carnevale/Karneval for quite a while, and since "Mardi-gras" is on the last day of February (28th) when I'm not sure that I'll be here, I thought I'd get it off now!
The British and the Americans (USA) tend not to make a fuss about it all, since it is really a "heathen adapted by the Catholics" festivity.
The word itself is quite interesting, coming from "carne" (derivations are found in latin, Spanish,Italian) having to do with "meat", as in carnivore, which we all are ('specially Chippie who loves his roast poultry!). The Germans even went one better, since the word "carne" or derivations thereof do not exist in German, they simply changed the "C" for a "K" and Germanified it! Actually, in German, the name given for Good Friday ( the day on which we stop or start eating fish or meat-I've never known which) is actually Karfreitag, and there is most certainly a link there!
A festival having something to do with "meat" or "flesh" therefore.
(Don't tell me that all those poor people have been noshing away at fish for a couple of months, because the price of fish is prohibitive-a whole pig doesn't cost half the price of a decent salmon!)
Flesh or Meat - well there are quite a lot of ideas which pass through the mind, the French word for flesh is "chair"(sometimes wrongly interpreted with "viande", which means meat)
and (as you can see) is sometimes, nay often, taken literally! The Germans have an enormously elaborate set up for Karneval, with Karnevalvereins and Associations all over the place, but the real centres are in Rhein/Westfalia (Cologne/Dusseldorf) and further down the river in the absolute centres of Mainz and around Frankfurt. Having said that, Karneval is celebrated everywhere in Germany, sometimes under another name, as in Bavaria, where it is called "Fasching" but the same rituals and events apply.
The Southern American (Brazil etc) versions, although being better known world-wide, are in fact quite timid little affairs when compared to the German version.
The Germans start in November already!!!! There are a few Karneval events in Nov/Dec., and then peace until after Christmas/New Year, into February, when all hell breaks loose!
There are "special" Karneval days for the females (none for the men-as usual) but in general the females use EVERY day of Karneval as their own! There are days when the politicians must, traditionally, bow to the "Karneval Prinz und Prinzesse", and hand over the keys to the Town Hall for the day! Even Central Government bows, slightly, once a year, to the "jecken" (name given to Karnevalists), and the main politicians have their ties cut off with scissors, by ladies equipped for the job, no doubt the tie being symbolic for something else! A few "mingy" politicians tried to get around this by wearin polo-necks etc on that day, but lost their seats at the next election, so now they all keep that tie that mum-in-law offered for Christmas!
In Bavaria, all the same rules and regulations (and there are thousands, being in Germany) are strictly held to, even if under a different name! The various regions have their own little traditions, which utilise local customs or products or situations, like in Bavaria, they have a day when one throws snowball onto a bonfire, upon which sits a dummy representing winter! Winter being burned is the idea!
Finally, the largest days of the "jecker" year, are "Rosenmontag", "Faschingsdienstag" the Sunday preceding these two being all-important! "Mardi Gras" tends, strangely, to be celebrated relatively quietly, and the Thursday (2 days later) is the absolute END!
If you've got Satellite TV, turn it onto one of the German National programmes (ARD/ZDF etc) on the Rosenmontag (2 days before Mardi Gras) , and you will be transported to the Rhine and the 20/30 mile long parades - all day long!! HERE ARE SOME PHOTOS OF KARNEVAL/FASCHING.
weather at Vauvert, France
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