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.
Remember, you must enter using the Rafflecopter form. Winners will be randomly selected and notified December 23rd. All contest entries close December 22nd at 11:59 MST. This contest is open internationally.