It’s Carnaval time in Spain! I’ve done some research to try to explain exactly what ‘carnaval’ (Spanish for “carnival”) is, and its origins, but opinion is divided on the subject.
It’s agreed that carnaval originated in pagan times, and, like many pagan celebrations, was eventually incorporated into the Catholic church. It is celebrated in many places, including Brazil, Spain, Italy (Venice having the oldest carnival), New Orleans (Mardi Gras), and many other places, too. It is always held just before Lent begins, and always seems to include outlandish costumes, and often cross-dressing!
The origin of the word is disputed. Some say “carnaval” comes from the words “carne” (meat) and “vale” (farewell), to indicate saying farewell to meat before the austerity of Lent.
Carnaval was always a bawdy celebration, as befits a fiesta just before Lent! In Spain, Franco banned carnaval for 40 years, as he thought the costumes, frivolity and masks would make it too easy for his enemies to gather secretly to incite rebellion. Or maybe he just didn’t like people to have fun. 🙂 Carnaval is widely celebrated all over Spain, but the most famous celebrations are in Cadiz and Tenerife.
Even little Yunquera has its Carnaval. Last night was the awarding of first prize for best costumes (both adults and children take part). You saw people dressed in drag, as chickens (!), ladybugs, and even in full Arab dress! Nothing was too outrageous.
Our official photographer Kenton took the photo shown below. As you can, the Spanish really know how to have fun!
Today is the burial of the sardine (entierro de la sardina). All will be explained later!