Mardi Gras is a celebration born out of the period beginning on the feast day of Epiphany and cumulating in the days leading up to Ash Wednesday, the commencement of Lent in traditional Catholic society. It is a grand final indulgence in all worldly temptations followed by a period of strict sober living and self denial in the name of faith, so it’s easy to see how things could get out of hand. In modern times it has become increasingly all inclusive with growing secular influences celebrated by people of all creeds in all corners of the world, with all that being said follow us below as we outline some of the more notable Mardi Gras celebrations around the world.
Brazil’s Carnival was initially imported when the Portuguese colonized Brazil mixing with pagan festivals as well as African influences. Existing in various forms as far back as the 17th century, today it is Brazil’s largest and most well known celebration, as well as their most effective inducer of tourism in modern day Brazil. Largely centered around samba music, street parades, and colourful feathered costumes, people around the country take to the streets and follow the massive moving musical floats known as trio elétricos throughout the city. With Rio de Janeiro’s festival alone attracting as many as 4.9 million people in 2011, it’s quite apparent that this locally grown globally recognized phenomenon is going nowhere fast.
As early as the 1200s people around Italy have been indulging in the celebrations of the carnivals around the country. Lasting from a single night to an entire month, with methods of appreciation ranging from the elaborate masks of Venice to the Battle of the Oranges the colossal urban food fight in Ivrea, the festival is a consistent and remarkable send off to this celebratory season. Masks play an important role in the festivities, with great masquerade balls throughout the country, and masks of all shapes, sizes, and qualities being sold year round.
New Orleans Mardi Gras is certainly the most recognized and glorified of the pre-Lent celebrations in the Americas, being celebrated for the first time at the tail end of the 17th Century in Louisiana by early French settlers. Today it is a staple of the culture of Louisiana, specifically New Orleans and fittingly the French Quarter, attracting people from around the world the population of New Orleans is known to double in the week leading up. Masks, costumes, beads, parades, floats, and feathers are all common sights amongst the Mardi Gras merriment, a jubilant attitude and an unabashed disposition are the only requirements.
Image Source: Epicurious