Feb 6, 2012
Carnival is one of the biggest celebrations in the world. Millions of people in cities throughout Spain gather for the week long event that involves themes, costumes, parties and plenty of food and alcohol.
There is a lot of speculation about the origin of Carnival. Some people believe that the word Carnival means, “Farewell to the flesh”. This is in reference to a higher-than-usual consumption of meat prior to Lent; when people had to give up meat for 40 days. Other people believe that the party was a festival of Saturnalia, the Roman solstice. In some places it is rumored that the seven days of Carnival are the only time during the year that God closes his eyes and anything goes.
Regardless of the origin, Carnival is a much-anticipated party in Spain every year. This year it will be held February 16-22. The party will take place in multiple cities throughout the country but the most famous celebrations are usually in Andalusia, Canary Islands, and Catalonia.
In Andalusia the celebration is called the Carnival of Cadiz. The costumes in this town follow a theme, usually based on recent events in the news. For example, during the bird flu epidemic, people dressed up as chickens. Rather than specializing in glamorous costumes, people in Andalusia like to have costumes that are more comedic, sarcastic, and clever.
The Carnival in the Canary Islands is held in the capital city: Santa Cruz de Tenerife. This party is one of the “Most Important Carnivals in the World”. It is the first Carnival ever to earn this distinction. The Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife has been a popular tourist attraction since the early 1980s.
Catalonia actually has a few Carnival celebrations; the Carnival de Solsona being the longest one. These carnivals involved outdoor parties and concerts every night. There is a legend, which says that the towns’ people hung a donkey from a tower bell because the donkey wanted to eat some grass growing on the top of the tower. As a tradition, a stuffed donkey is hung from a tower bell every year during Carnival.
Attending a Carnival celebration this month should definitely be put on your to-do list. If you are lucky enough to be in Spain around that time, you’ll have dozens of awesome parties to attend throughout the week.