Gilbert Young - Carnival (AP)
Carnival (AP)
Paul Lawler - Flying Down to Rio
Flying Down to Rio
Travel - Rio

The History of Carnival
Or – Oh to look like her for just one night!

Carnival is a huge festival celebrated originally as the ancient Greek festival of Spring.   In honor of Dionysus, that naughty boy, his debauchery and cavorting was held as an example of how to celebrate this season of coming growth.  Being the god of wine, Dionysian festivals also including far too much drinking, but with the hope of much fertility and abundance in the coming months.  Although old tomes run rich with hangover remedies.  

The Romans (of course) “borrowed” the festival and dedicated it to Bacchus, their god of wine.  They honored the festival of Saturnalia at the same time, with clothing exchanges amongst classes, drunkenness in the street, traveling musicians and food vendors by the score. 

Saturnalia was later absorbed into the scores of borrowed pagan holidays, now becoming the festival leading up to Ash Wednesday. Although the Church fought hard to keep the masses in control, with an overabundance of  mandatory church attendance through all of the spring/lent days. Instead, the people pushed the holiday/festival spirit to unbelievable limits, all in the guise of a holiday.  What a wonderful independence of spirit these festivals show.  The true base of paganism.  

So, in today’s world, the celebrations of Carnival take place in many places around the globe. The most famous perhaps, is the Carnival of Rio.  A massive celebration including every possible overindulgence available.  A huge orgy of food, drink and sex before the long 40 days of Lent and personal deprivation, all in the name of faith.   

Within this huge festival, you’ll see dancers, topless, risqué, costumes flashing with sparkles and floating on the breeze, replete with feather headdresses and flimsy skirts. Street performers, musicians, acrobats and actors….all manner of character filling every possible spot. 

The word carnival is from Carne Vale of the Latin or “Goodbye to the flesh”.  A very appropriate name for one of the southern hemisphere’s biggest festival.


Copyright - 2003



Copyright 2001 - 2017

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