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  • Writer's pictureMaría Molina

Let's go to the Carnival

Carnival is a festive period preceding Lent. It comes, like other festivities, from Christian traditions. Lent is a period of 40 days preceding the celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, which is celebrated on Easter Sunday.

Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Maundy Thursday. Carnival must end the day before. This day is called Mardi Gras in traditional French places like New Orleans.

The end of Carnival is announced in various parts of Spain and Latin America with a ceremony called the Entierro de la Sardina (Burial of the Sardine). It usually consists of a carnival parade that parodies a funeral procession and culminates with the burning of a symbolic figure. It is traditionally held on Ash Wednesday.

Like Holy Week and, therefore, Easter Sunday, which have no fixed date, the dates of carnival are not fixed either, although there is increasing pressure in the places where it is held to set dates, detaching it from its relationship with these Christian dates.

Carnival combines elements such as costumes, groups singing songs, parades and street parties. Despite the differences in the way it is celebrated around the world, its common characteristic is that it is a period of permissiveness and a certain lack of control.

The most famous outside Spain are:

Venice Carnival: Characterised by costumes based on 17th century attire and masks.

Rio de Janeiro Carnival: Who doesn't know its dazzling parades led by the samba schools?

New Orleans Carnival: Named after its most representative day (Mardi Gras), although parades begin two weeks beforehand. The most colourful and elaborate celebrations take place on the last five days.

We are now going to look at the most famous ones in Spain, which are those of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, in the Canary Islands, and Cadiz. Both have in common that they have two distinct parts, the "official" carnival and the street carnival. The official carnival is a competition of groups of different types, which wear a common costume and sing songs, usually satirical or in praise of the city. The street carnival is the participation of the citizens themselves in the festival.

In the case of the Santa Cruz Carnival, the Gala for the election of the Carnival Queen is especially fascinating. The candidates wear arrangements full of imagination and fantasy.

The highlight of the Carnival of Cádiz is the Final de Agrupaciones, which is held in the picturesque Gran Teatro Falla. There are four types of groups: choirs, chirigotas, comparsas and quartets. The Carrousel de Coros is also of great interest.

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