Carnival

DEFINITION

Carnival is an occasion or season of public celebration, often with parades, costumes, music, and dancing; an instance of merrymaking, feasting, or masquerading in riotous excess. As such, carnival is celebrated in Roman Catholic regions during the three-day period before Lent ? 40 days of fasting and sacrifice. Examples include Mardi Gras (French for "Fat Tuesday", meaning Shrove Tuesday) in New Orleans, LA, and carnivals in cities across Europe and Latin America. Many historians assert that carnival has roots in the ancient Roman festivals Saturnalia (Saturn's festival) and Lupercalia (honoring Faunus, god of fertility and forests), characterized by Bacchanalian revels of unbridled freedom. Thus carnival's temporary subversions of civil order reveal links between Christians' annual remembrance of Christ's redemption from sin to pagans' seasonal celebration of winter's end and spring's beginning.A carnival can also be a traveling enterprise offering amusements, or an organized program of entertainment or exhibition comparable to a circus."Carnival" was derived from 16th century Italian carnevale, which came from Latin carn "flesh" and carnelevamen "cease eating meat" during Lent.Carnivalesque is the tendency toward abandoning self-restraint. Although the West is most aware of its expression in the period before Lent, such behaviors are seen in nearly every culture. America's celebration of Halloween and Mexico's of Dia de los Muertos are characterized by the carnivalesque, for instance.Quote: "There are ... points in community life which permit and even encourage expression of non-legitimated voice. One such juncture is the carnivalesque." Carnival, with its belly-shaking laughter, its grotesque humor, its emphasis on feasting, defecating, disembowelment, coitus, and other body-related actions, its exaggeration and its unwillingness to accept anything as sacred, creates an arena where free expression of non-legitimated voices can compete with the ideologies of the status quo. It contains the fundamental elements of popular critique as well as those of transformation and renewal. Quantz, R., & O'Conner, T. (1988). "Writing critical ethnography: Dialogue, multivoicedness, and carnival in cultural texts." Educational Theory, 38(1), p.100. See critique, emphasis, expression, grotesque, and transformation. "The carnivalesque is a place of laughter, bodily sensations, role reversals, spectacles, comic verbal assaults and portrayals. Carnival is a time for rejecting rank, privilege, norms and religious prohibitions.... The role of carnival... is to liberate people from narrow ways of thinking. In carnival, the rules are reversed and people can play with them ? to a point [at which] existing traditions may be transformed." Mary Stokrocki (American), contemporary art educator. (2004). "A Postmodern Semiotic View of the Carnivalesque in a Masquerade Parade," pp. 56 and 61. In Semiotics and Visual Culture: Sights, Signs, and Significance, edited by D. L. Smith-Shank. Reston, VA: National Education Association. See tradition.

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