Sunday, February 22, 2009

Word of the week 23 February - 1 March 2009 CARNIVAL AND SHROVETIDE

The origin of the name "Carnival" is unclear as there are two theories:

Most popularly, it is believed the term Carnival derives from the words
'carne vale' (farewell to meat), a reference to the excesses that led up to the sombre Lent (Cuaresma).

Some suspect Carnival is derived from the Roman solstice festival, the Saturnalia, where participants indulged in much drinking and dancing. Saturnalia is believed to have had the first parade floats (carrozas), called the 'carrus navalis' (naval car), in honour of the god Apollo.

Shrovetide is the English equivalent of Carnival. The word shrove is a past tense of the English verb 'shrive', which means to obtain absolution for one's sins by confessing and doing penance. Shrove Tuesday gets its name from the shriving (confession) that Anglo-Saxon Christians were expected to receive immediately before Lent. Shrove Tuesday is celebrated as Pancake Day.

The term 'Mardi Gras' or Fat Tuesday refers to the Carnival celebrations originated in the one time French colonial capitals of Mobile (now in Alabama), New Orleans (Louisiana) and Biloxi (Mississippi).

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