Mardi Gras In Bohemia

 

I just discovered that Mardi Gras is celebrating Epiphany Day which I did, alone, intuitively. There must be something in my DNA, my white bones, that bid me to act like an alien all the time. I have never been able to go along with the American Program invented in the 50’s by Walt Disney. I hated Disneyland when I went there when I was eleven. All my peers lacked the talent to entertain themselves, so they vied with one another to get to the front of the line, as if this made their Funtime more enjoyable than what the lesser kids would experience – who came after The Chosen Funtime Ones!  Our President cuts in every line, and grabs all he can. Only I compete with him for attention. Everyone else, is too chicken-shit, and…………….stoned!

I am ‘The Last Bohemian Standing’. All the old hippies and wannabes are TRANSFIXED due to their race to GET the highest THC levels possible. They are paranoid someone will take their place. They have turned off their imaginations.

Jon ‘The Bohemian Magi’

past tense: transfixed; past participle: transfixed
  1. 1.
    cause (someone) to become motionless with horror, wonder, or astonishment.
    “he was transfixed by the pain in her face”
    synonyms: mesmerize, hypnotize, spellbind, bewitch, captivate, entrance, enthrall, fascinate, absorb, enrapture, grip, hook, rivet, paralyze

    “she was transfixed by the images on the screen”

Mardi Gras (/ˈmɑːrdiɡrɑː/), also called Shrove Tuesday,[1] or Fat Tuesday,[2][3][4][5] in English, refers to events of the Carnival celebrations, beginning on or after the Christian feasts of the Epiphany (Three Kings Day) and culminating on the day before Ash Wednesday. Mardi Gras is French for “Fat Tuesday”, reflecting the practice of the last night of eating richer, fatty foods before the ritual fasting of the Lenten season.

From now until early March, Masopust season is in full swing in Prague and throughout the Czech Republic. For the uninitiated, this is the Czech Mardi Gras, a time of feasting and revelry that traditionally led up to Ash Wednesday and Lenten.

At the heart of any true Czech masopust celebration is the “zabíjačka“, a hog-killing feast. It’s a day-long event where a pig is slaughtered and delicacies like black soup, blood sausage, and pork cracklings are made and consumed on the spot with great quantities of plum brandy (slivovice).

The town butcher typically presides over these outdoor festivities sporting, along with a lovely blood-spattered apron, a special knit wool skull cap called a zmijovka, or viper, for the zig-zag pattern that snakes around its brim. Read more, including where to buy your very own, on our blog post on the subject!

Another equally important aspect of Czech masopust are the masked parades and carnivals taking place in districts across Prague as well as farther afoot.

In the East Bohemian village of Hlinecko, the parade has remain unchanged for centuries and has even made the UNESCO list of heritage events. The highlights of this door-to-door Shrovetide procession include ritual dances, black masks, the consumption of deep-fried donuts, and some incredibly bizarre headdress, particularly towering wide-brimmed hats that are festooned with vibrantly colored flowers, ribbons, and pom poms—almost like a clown hat.

If you plan on attending one of these parades keep the festive dress code in mind. Funny hats and masks can be purchased at most Czech stationery stores. (I recently spotted a plague doctor mask at my local papírnictví—in the kid’s section no less!)

Prague’s most long-running masopust parade is in Žižkov (this year on February 17 at 4 pm). Starting in Jiřího z Poděbrad Square, It is a lively, family-friendly Fat Tuesday celebration with puppets, costumes, masks, music, and plenty of revelry.

Visiting Prague and want to sample zabíjačka fare minus the ritual killing? The annual masopust market at Tylovo náměstí, running through February 17, has grilled pork specialities and beer. Costumes are optional, stretchy pants are not!

Related popular practices are associated with Shrovetide celebrations before the fasting and religious obligations associated with the penitential season of Lent. In countries such as the United Kingdom, Mardi Gras is also known as Shrove Tuesday, which is derived from the word shrive, meaning “confess“.[1]

The festival season varies from city to city, as some traditions, such as the one in New Orleans, Louisiana, consider Mardi Gras to stretch the entire period from Twelfth Night (the last night of Christmas which begins Epiphany) to Ash Wednesday.[6][7] Others treat the final three-day period before Ash Wednesday as the Mardi Gras.[8] In Mobile, Alabama, Mardi Gras-associated social events begin in November, followed by mystic society balls on Thanksgiving,[6][9] then New Year’s Eve, followed by parades and balls in January and February, celebrating up to midnight before Ash Wednesday. In earlier times, parades were held on New Year’s Day.[6] Other cities famous for Mardi Gras celebrations include Rio de Janeiro; Barranquilla, Colombia; George Town, Cayman Islands; Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago; Quebec City, Quebec, Canada; and Mazatlán, Sinaloa, Mexico.

Carnival is an important celebration in Anglican and Catholic European nations.[1] In the United Kingdom and Ireland, the week before Ash Wednesday is called “Shrovetide”, ending on Shrove Tuesday. It has its popular celebratory aspects, as well. Pancakes are a traditional food. Pancakes and related fried breads or pastries made with sugar, fat, and eggs are also traditionally consumed at this time in many parts of Latin America and the Caribbean.

Mardi Gras in Dakar, Senegal

Mardi Gras in Marseille, France

Mardi Gras in Binche, Belgium

Belgium

In the Belgian city of Binche, the Mardi Gras festival is one of the most important days of the year and the summit of the Carnival of Binche. Around 1000 Gilles dance throughout the city from morning until past dusk, whilst traditional carnival songs play. In 2003, the “Carnival of Binche” was proclaimed one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.

Brazil

Carnival is the most famous Brazilian holiday. During this time, Brazil attracts 70% of its tourists. Variations in carnival celebrations are observed throughout the multitude of Brazilian cities. Yet, a commonality observed among them is the incorporation of samba into the celebrations. The southeastern cities of Brazil have massive parades that take place in large sambadromes. The Rio Carnival is where two million people celebrate in the city. The city of Salvador holds a very large carnival celebration where millions of people celebrate the party in the streets of the city with a very big diversity of musical styles together.

Cayman Islands

Cayman Mardi Gras has now been recognised as one of the island’s national festivals. Celebrating the traditional Fat Tuesday, they also host a festive Monday Food Festival as well as an all day EDM Ash Wednesday. The event attracts thousands of attendees during the 3 day festival and includes a line up of international celebrities and performers. The Cayman Mardi Gras Festival is slowly becoming a major tourist attraction to the island nation and with the large international presence will attract bigger performing names in the future.

Colombia

Carnaval de Barranquilla is Colombia’s Mardi Gras celebration. In 2003, it was proclaimed as one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.

Czech Republic

In the Czech Republic it is a folk tradition to celebrate Mardi Gras, which is called Masopust (meat-fast i.e. beginning of fast there). There are celebration in many places including Prague[10] but the tradition also prevails in the villages such as Staré Hamry, whose the door-to-door processions there made it to the UNESCO World Intangible Cultural Heritage List.[11]

France

Carnival parades take place in many cities including Dunkerque, Granville, Sarreguemines as well as in the French Caribbean islands Guadeloupe and Martinique.

The Nice Carnival in France is one of the world’s major Carnival celebrations. It is held annually in Nice on the French Riviera. The earliest records establish its existence in 1294 when the Count of Provence, Charles Anjou, wrote that he had passed “the joyous days of carnival.”This may make the Nice Carnival the original carnival celebration. Today the event attracts over a million visitors to Nice every year. The Carnival celebrations in Nice span a two-week period.

Germany

The celebration on the same day in Germany knows many different terms, such as Schmutziger Donnerstag or Fetter Donnerstag (Fat Thursday), Unsinniger Donnerstag, Weiberfastnacht, Greesentag and others, and are often only one part of the whole carnival events during one or even two weeks before Ash Wednesday be called Karneval, Fasching, or Fastnacht among others, depending on the region. In standard German, schmutzig means “dirty”, but in the Alemannic dialects schmotzig means “lard” (Schmalz), or “fat”;[12] “Greasy Thursday”, as remaining winter stores of lard and butter used to be consumed at that time, before the fasting began. Fastnacht means “Eve of the Fast”, but all three terms cover the whole carnival season. The traditional start of the carnival season is on November 11 at 11:11 am (11/11 11:11).

Italy

In Italy Mardi Gras is called Martedì Grasso (Fat Tuesday). It’s the main day of Carnival along with the Thursday before, called Giovedí Grasso (Fat Thursday), which ratifies the start of the celebrations. The most famous Carnivals in Italy are in Venice, Viareggio and Ivrea. Ivrea has the characteristic “Battle of Oranges” that finds its roots in medieval times. The Italian version of the festival is spelled Carnevale.[13]

Netherlands

The Netherlands also has a festival similar to Mardi Gras. It’s called Carnaval and is similar to the Venice Carnival. The origin of the word Carnaval is carnem levare which means “to take away meat” in Latin, or carne vale, Latin for “farewell to meat”. It marks the beginning of Lent (March 1, 2017) leading up to Easter

The carnival in the Netherlands is mainly held in the southern part of the Netherlands in the provinces of Noord-Brabant and Limburg, some parts of Zeeland and in eastern parts of Twente and Gelderland. As with many popular festivals, people tend to loosen some moral codes and become laid-back or loose, which is based in the ancient role-reversal origins of Carnaval, including dressing in costumes.

Russia and Ukraine

Both Russia and Ukraine have the festival of Maslenitsa (Масленица, rus.), which on its pagan side celebrates the end of winter and the upcoming summer, and on its Christian side marks the last week before the Great Fasting period before Christian Easter. The festival includes family gatherings with festive meals and treats of bliny (crepes) that resemble the round shape of sun, and culminates on the weekend with mass outdoors gatherings, festivities and entertaining activities such as pole climbing, where a wheel with variety of presents is affixed on the top of a long pole and the contestants need to reach the top to get them. Also the festival’s mascot – a feminine figure made out of straw, which symbolizes winter, gets put of fire at the end of the celebration.

Sweden

In Sweden the celebration is called Fettisdagen, when you eat fastlagsbulle, more commonly called Semla. The name comes from the words “fett” (fat) and “tisdag” (Tuesday). Originally, this was the only day one should eat fastlagsbullar.[14]

United States

While not observed nationally throughout the United States, a number of traditionally ethnic French cities and regions in the country have notable celebrations. Mardi Gras arrived in North America as a French Catholic tradition with the Le Moyne brothers,[15] Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville and Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville, in the late 17th century, when King Louis XIV sent the pair to defend France’s claim on the territory of Louisiane, which included what are now the U.S. states of Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and part of eastern Texas.[15]

The expedition, led by Iberville, entered the mouth of the Mississippi River on the evening of March 2, 1699 (new style), Lundi Gras. They did not yet know it was the river explored and claimed for France by René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle in 1683. The party proceeded upstream to a place on the east bank about 60 miles downriver from where New Orleans is today, and made camp. This was on March 3, 1699, Mardi Gras, so in honour of this holiday, Iberville named the spot Point du Mardi Gras (French: “Mardi Gras Point”) and called the nearby tributary Bayou Mardi Gras.[16] Bienville went on to found the settlement of Mobile, Alabama in 1702 as the first capital of French Louisiana.[17] In 1703 French settlers in Mobile established the first organised Mardi Gras celebration tradition in what was to become the United States.[15][18][19][20] The first informal mystic society, or krewe, was formed in Mobile in 1711, the Boeuf Gras Society.[18] By 1720, Biloxi had been made capital of Louisiana. The French Mardi Gras customs had accompanied the colonists who settled there.[15]

Knights of Revelry parade down Royal Street in Mobile during the 2010 Mardi Gras season.

In 1723, the capital of Louisiana was moved to New Orleans, founded in 1718.[17] The first Mardi Gras parade held in New Orleans is recorded to have taken place in 1837. The tradition in New Orleans expanded to the point that it became synonymous with the city in popular perception, and embraced by residents of New Orleans beyond those of French or Catholic heritage. Mardi Gras celebrations are part of the basis of the slogan Laissez les bons temps rouler (“Let the good times roll”).[15][not in citation given] On Mardi Gras Day, the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, the last parades of the season wrap up and the celebrations come to a close with the Meeting of the Courts (known locally as the Rex Ball). Other cities along the Gulf Coast with early French colonial heritage, from Pensacola, Florida; Galveston, Texas; to Lake Charles and Lafayette, Louisiana; and north to Natchez, Mississippi, have active Mardi Gras celebrations.

Galveston’s first recorded Mardi Gras celebration, in 1867, included a masked ball at Turner Hall (Sealy at 21st St.) and a theatrical performance from Shakespeare’s “King Henry IV” featuring Alvan Reed (a justice of the peace weighing in at 350 pounds!) as Falstaff. The first year that Mardi Gras was celebrated on a grand scale in Galveston was 1871 with the emergence of two rival Mardi Gras societies, or “Krewes” called the Knights of Momus (known only by the initials “K.O.M.”) and the Knights of Myth, both of which devised night parades, masked balls, exquisite costumes and elaborate invitations. The Knights of Momus, led by some prominent Galvestonians, decorated horse-drawn wagons for a torch lit night parade. Boasting such themes as “The Crusades,” “Peter the Great,” and “Ancient France,” the procession through downtown Galveston culminated at Turner Hall with a presentation of tableaux and a grand gala.

In the rural Acadiana area, many Cajuns celebrate with the Courir de Mardi Gras, a tradition that dates to medieval celebrations in France.[21]

St. Louis, Missouri claims to host the second largest Mardi Gras celebration in the United States.[22] The celebration is held in the historic French neighborhood, Soulard, and attracts hundreds of thousands of people from around the country.[23] The city’s celebration begins with “12th night,” held on Epiphany, and ends on Fat Tuesday. The season is peppered with various parades celebrating the city’s rich French Catholic heritage.[24]

About Royal Rosamond Press

I am an artist, a writer, and a theologian.
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