Carnival: Let the Good Times Roll!
By Melissa Muth, Career Advancement Program Assistant
Every year, Carnival is anticipated by people all across the globe. It is a celebration filled with dancing, singing, eating, and pure merriment! In honor of this truly international extravaganza and its diverse representations and cultural affiliations, the Career Advancement Program has decided to look at some of the world’s biggest Carnival events- specifically those in countries from which a significant number of our participants arrive! Let’s see how different countries make Carnival celebrations their own:
New Orleans, Louisiana
With strong French traditions, New Orleans Carnival- best known as Mardi Gras, or “Fat Tuesday”- is a truly unique experience. While almost all Carnival celebrations include jubilant dances, costumes, and parades, what sets this southern city apart is the King Cake and the special parties that are dedicated to it. The goal is to find the small plastic baby inside of the cake… and of course enjoy the sugar-y deliciousness. It is said that he or she who finds the baby attains luck and prosperity!
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Rio de Janeiro is revered as the Carnival capital of the world. Like with many Carnival celebrations, dancing, singing, and partying are the main to-dos on Rio’s Carnival list. What sets the South American country’s celebration apart from others is the Samba, a style of Brazilian dance and music which stems from African traditions. The Samba Parade is indeed the highlight of Rio Carnival, as it brings together some of the finest Samba dancers in Brazil for a competition like no other!
Carnival in Venice is branded by ornate masks and the famous “most beautiful mask” contest. Various distinct styles of masks are worn at the Carnival, including the columbina, a modern half-mask, and the medico della peste, which has a long beak and was originally designed to be a method of plague prevention!
Goa Carnival originates from the Portuguese Christians who ruled the city for more than half a century. It is truly a blend of cultures, including Indian, Latin, and African, drawing in participants and spectators from across the world. The highlight of the celebration is the arrival of the famous King MoMo (traditionally a tall, fat man, serving to embody the real King Momo) who orders everyone to party. At Goa Carnival you’ll probably find yourself surrounded by Bollywood dancers, African Acrobats, and more!
Cape Town, South Africa
Cape Town Carnival- although no less mind-blowing than its counterparts- is a somewhat new spectacle. What began as a small-scale event amid the 2010 World Cup celebrations has developed into a powerful symbol of South African diversity, a source of creativity and a proponent of economic and social development. It is the ultimate community-oriented event, embracing all of the diversity that South Africa has to offer!
Interested in sharing fun facts or any of your own Carnival experiences? For a chance to be featured on our blog please send your favorites to Melissa at cap(AT)ccigreenheart(DOT)org.