And I like large parties. They’re so intimate. At small parties there isn’t any privacy. F Scott Fitzgerald
Carnival is the largest party in Europe and we can’t get enough.
The vast majority of the population in countries where we have celebrated Carnival are Roman Catholic. In France, Italy, and Portugal, Roman Catholics make up over 80% of the overall population.
Carnival is basically pre-Lent or Shrovetide. It is a street party dedicated to indulgent behaviors before the official start of Lent on Ash Wednesday. Lent then lasts 40 days (not including Sundays), ending on Holy Thursday, or the Thursday before Easter. It is safe to say that February and sometimes March is party season and we are so happy to be back in Europe in time for our favorite festa.
We have danced in the preschool parades on the Island of Elba, the floating flower parades in Nice, France and in the shadows of floats that seem to touch the sky in Viareggio, Italy. This is our first Carnival in Portugal and we love the anticipation we feel turning every corner.
Some of the things we love about Carnival is that everyone dresses up no matter what the age. There is an expectation that some friendly confetti and silly string ambushes will take place and kids love to catch adults when they least expect it. Jokes, pranks, tricks, and treats are all part of the street party. Political satire, scantily clad dancers, and loud music are also fan favorites but somehow don’t diminish the family atmosphere.
A local man shared a Portuguese saying wish us yesterday, “É Carnaval, ninguém leva a mal!” The rough translation is, “It is Carnival, and no one gets hurt or offended.” I guess that is what makes it special for our family. It is about being free, playful, and festive and it doesn’t stop when you grow up.
Carnival was not associated with Lent until the middle-ages. Its pre-Christian history was a way to close the winter months of darkness and step into the light.
Put on a mask, dance in the streets, and let the sunshine down upon you. From Torres Vedras to Loulé and everywhere in between, you are not alone and yet no one is watching …
Today’s Tweetable: Carnival is playful, and everyone is invited to the party