Seven Days of Winter Solstice Giveaways-Day 6

As seen in True Colors, the Elder Races have their own Christmas celebration called the Masque of the Gods, which culminates in a the Festival of the Masque on the winter solstice. For this entire week, join us in celebrating the Masque with seven days of winter solstice giveaways. Every day you’ll have a chance to enter to win a gift pack that includes one copy of Lord’s Fall, a bookmark, dragon soap made by Thea Harrison, a coupon for 30% off the Elder Race novellas (including True Colors), and a holiday card from Thea. To enter, just comment on the daily posts and then enter your information via the Rafflecopter form (link at the end of the post). You can gain extra entries by tweeting about the giveaway and signing up for Thea’s newsletter.

Once again, thank you all for your interest in Thea’s novels and happy holidays!

Modern Carnivals Around the World

As we start wrapping up our seven days of Winter Solstice giveaways, let’s take a wider look at carnival celebrations around the world.

Carnival started in Europe when the Vatican outlawed dancing in churches. Before that, dancing and feasting were integral parts of religious life–think of the labyrinths in French Gothic cathedrals, which were the sites of elaborate dances by both the clergy and laity on Easter Sunday. Dancing made many church officials nervous, however, and in the twelfth century dancing inside churches was banned. People could, however, dance in public on holidays and feast days as long as they didn’t do so inside the church. This was how carnevale was born (as well as many of the feast- and saint-day celebrations that still survive today).

Carnevale today is celebrated all over the world. In German-speaking countries, it’s called Fasching and culminates in a parade the Monday before lent called Rosenmontag. In North America, the most famous carnival is Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday in New Orleans, which lasts for two weeks and includes parades, competitions, and balls hosted by carnival krewes. Like most other Carnevals, the New Orleans Mardi Gras includes dressing up in costumes; but is unique for the strings of beads, doubloons, and Zulu coconuts thrown during parades; flambeaux carriers, a form of dance that some think is a remnant of African slave culture; and King Cake–basically a coffee cake with a little plastic baby baked into the center. Yum! Mardi Gras is also famous for women exposing their breasts in exchange for trinkets from the krewes, which believe it or not has been going on since the mid-19th century.

Even though Mardi Gras is probably the most prominent carnival in North American’s minds, the largest and most influential carnival in the world is currently the Brazilian Carnival in Rio de Janeiro. Samba schools parade and compete in the Sambadrome. They’re judged on how their music, costumes and dance fit into a theme of their choosing. Unlike in European carnivals, the costumes in the Brazilian carnival are almost entirely devoid of masks. Celebrities often participate in the carnival and the Sambadrome, which holds over a million people, is stuffed to over capacity. There are also more local, low-key celebrations called Blocos de Rua that might never leave a city street or a single building (read: bar). Blocos de Rua start in January and extend into the first Sunday of Lent. The Brazilian-style carnival has spread to Africa, many Caribbean islands, India, and Asia.

Tomorrow we’ll finish up with a discussion of the Masque of the Gods in the Elder Races series. Today, tell us if there are any Carnival traditions where you live or which carnival you’d like to visit.

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36 Responses

  1. Linda Thum says:

    In my country we have a street parade called Chingay ( where performers balance giant poles on various parts of their bodies w/o using their hands. It’s quite an awesome spectacle.

  2. Renate says:

    I’m in Germany – and while there are no carnival traditions in the north, there is a lot usually happening in the midwest of Germany (Cologne area). There are parades with a LOT of trucks and carts displaying scenes with a very sarcastic political context. Sweets (Kamellen) are thrown into the the onlooking crowd, too.
    I must say I’ve never been the carvival type of person, though πŸ˜‰

  3. Julie D L says:

    My dad dreamed of going to Marti Gras, but the one time he made it to Louisiana, was the wrong time of year, unfortunately.

  4. Viki S. says:

    There are no carnivals that I’m aware of in my area of Northeast Ohio. If I ever attended one it would most likely be Mardi Gras. I would be on the sidelines though – it kind of frightens me ;).

  5. Julie says:

    No traditions here, but I’ve always wanted to visit New Orleans….especially during Mardi Gras!

  6. Irene says:

    There is the Notting Hill Carnival in London every year which is not too far from here , I’d love the chance to see the Mardi Gras though!

  7. Elizabeth H. says:

    No Carnival traditions here in Kansas but I’d love to go see the one in Venice!

  8. Holly says:

    I’d love to go back to southern Germany for Fasching – the parades, the costumes, everything was amazing when I lived there.

  9. Keslynn says:

    Except for New Orleans, I don’t think there are really many Carnevale celebrations in the US. πŸ™ I know my area doesn’t really have anything.

  10. Sumiyati E Monoarfa says:

    Hi, actually there are big Carnivals in San Francisco and Los Angeles and minor ones in the Bradenton/St. Petersburg area of Florida. I have been to them as well as New Orleans…I have always wanted to go to Rio’s but after having read about Tettnang,Germany I’d like to go there too. ~

  11. Kristina parmenter says:

    I have been to New orleans just after Mardi Gras and it was still ahopping place :0 There were beads hanging from the trees and stuff everywhere. I don’t know if it is still there by=ut before the hurricane they has a Mardi Gras museum where you could go to see all the costumes. I am planning on spending my 10 year wedding anniversary there next year and we will be participating in Mardi Gras so it should be a fun adventure πŸ™‚

  12. Alaina says:

    I would love to go to Mardi Gras one year… here in Canada we have the winter carnival in Quebec, but thats a fair distance from me!

  13. SharonS says:

    no carnivals in my area, but I have always wanted to visit Mardi Gras. One day I will πŸ™‚

  14. Aly P says:

    I always wanted to see the on from Venice πŸ™‚

  15. Diane says:

    There’s the Winter carnival, Bonhomme de Neige in Quebec City but I have yet to get there!!!

  16. Sabine W. says:

    I would like to visit carnival in Rio de Janeiro. It must be incredibly amazing.

  17. bn100 says:

    No carnival traditions here.

  18. Yami says:

    No Carnival traditions here. But it’s something that sounds like it would be fun. I wouldn’t mind going to Venice one day to see where they originated from.

  19. Jackie Nicholson-Woodland says:

    The only one I know of is cara bana in toronto..:)

  20. Danielle E says:

    I’ve never been but I would love to go to the one in New Orleans

  21. Chelsea B. says:

    We don’t– but I’ve been to New Orleans while they were having theirs! It was crazy!

  22. Michelle Bledsoe says:

    As you know here in Southern Mississippi & Louisiana, we have our Mardi Gras. One day I hope to go to another country to experience their carnivals.

  23. Marianne says:

    Would love to get down to Mardi Gras one year!

  24. Gonza says:

    In Ivrea, (Italy near Turin) they throw oranges, it hurts but it’s pretty funny!

  25. Here, they throw colored pieces of paper!

  26. Timitra says:

    I’m from Trinidad and Tobago we have carnival it’s two days before Ash Wednesday each year.

  27. Samantha R says:

    I am shamelessly lacking in originality on this… I would love to be in Rio for the Carnival… And I’ve always wanted to visit New Orleans – Mardi Gras would be a fabulous excuse…

    I think that it’s a bit cold and wet here for anything really resembling a carnival… But I’m sure that I’ll be proved wrong soon!


  28. Michelle Tan says:

    i can’t think of any carnivals over here too. but i would love to visit Mardi Gras some day!

  29. Pam P says:

    I’ve always wanted to experience Mardi Gras, wild and crazy. Did not know carnevale came about because of the church.

  30. L. Blanchard says:

    I have been commenting for days and just realized how to use the rafflecopter…sigh. My bad. RE: Carnivale, nothing much here in Northern California but I’ve always wanted to go to New Orleans or Rio.

  31. Raonaid Luckwell says:

    No real Carnivale traditions here. Though I would love to experience Mardi Gras once…!/RaonaidLuckwell/posts/540275512649561

  32. JenM says:

    There’s no Carnevale where I live but once we were on the tiny island of Saba in the Caribbean during their festival and it was wild. Lots of costumes, and a parade that looped around the Main Street while everyone got rip-roaring drunk.

  33. Chris B says:

    Oddly enough there is a German Club in Pueblo, CO that would celebrate Fasching/Carnevale. I did go once and it was alot of fun polkaing!!

  34. Michelle K says:

    there is pseudo Mardi Gras where I live. not something I would ever want to go to!

  35. Joanne B says:

    There are no canivales where I live. I’ve always wanted to go to Mardi Gras but I’m afraid I’ll get hit in the face with the beads people throw.

  36. Tisha Hyde says:

    While it may be true, as historian S. Frederick Starr observes in his book New Orleans Unmasqued, that Mardi Gras is β€œa city-wide indulgence in pure fantasy that has no parallel on the entire North American continent,” a significant percentage of French Quarter revelers aren’t masked on Fat Tuesday. (The Spring Break crowd, now very much a part of the French Quarter scene, is generally more interested in booze, beads and boobs than clever costumes.) Nevertheless, masks and make-believe should be de rigeur wherever Mardi Gras is celebrated.