google-site-verification: googlee20fcd946adc59a7.html Out of the Past: 2015

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Carnival vs. Lent

"Carnival. This is the time preceding Lent in the Christian calendar. In earlier times, all remaining meat and dairy products had to be consumed during this period, before the forty-day fast. The word carnival has some connection to carne or meat.

"Carnival, also known as Fat Tuesday and Mardi Gras, is a day of ritual subversion. All the normal rules of society are turned upside down. You're allowed to get blind drunk, lift your shirt to passersby, rudely satirize public figures with parade floats - and that's only the mild version in New Orleans. In the middle ages, it was also time to openly mock your superiors with fake weddings, trials, even masses. Anything normally held sacred was ridiculed.

"Historically, at the end of the festivities, a fat man armed with phallic sausages would tilt with a skinny figure impersonating Lent, armed with fish and vegetables, and of course Lent always had to win. Then everything would go back to the way it was before."

Out of the Past
Artwork: The Fight Between Carnival and Lent by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, 1559.