Mardi Gras Around the World

"Mardi Gras 2011 Zulus We Got Cocoanuts" by Brad Coy - Flickr: Mardi Gras 2011. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons http://goo.gl/y7DVwE

“Mardi Gras 2011 Zulus We Got Cocoanuts” by Brad Coy – Flickr: Mardi Gras 2011. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons http://goo.gl/y7DVwE

Mardi Gras, America’s biggest party, happens every February in New Orleans. Beads, booze, costumes, excess and questionable decision making of all kinds, and Catholicism.

Although many people don’t think about much more than the partying, Mardi Gras is, after all, a tradition rooted in religion. The day after Mardi Gras day marks the beginning of Lent, a season of the Christian calendar during which people are expected to give up rich foods and parties and observe a less indulgent lifestyle. The best way to prepare for this is, of course, total indulgence.

This celebration is not unique to New Orleans (although each version of this party does have its own personality and traditions). Almost everyone has heard of Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, probably the biggest carnival in the world. There’s music and dancing in the streets all around the city, but the main parade happens in the Sambodromo. (Thanks, Wikipedia!)

By Nicolas de Camaret from São Paulo, Brazil (Carnaval 2014 - Rio de Janeiro) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Nicolas de Camaret from São Paulo, Brazil (Carnaval 2014 – Rio de Janeiro) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

In one of Shoreline’s study abroad destinations, Bolivia, there is the famous Carnaval in Oruro. This festival actually predates the Catholic Church, but, after the Spanish brought their religion to Latin America, it took on Christian overtones. Regardless of the specifics, it has always been about a battle between good and evil. One of the main events is the devil dance.

By bjaglin [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By bjaglin [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

In another of our study abroad destinations, Italy, the festival (in typical Italian style) takes on a more elegant air. Venetians wear elaborate masks and costumes and hold balls, tournaments, and (I think we’re seeing a pattern here) parades.

800px-Venice_Carnival_-_Masked_Lovers_(2010)

By Frank Kovalchek from Anchorage, Alaska, USA [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

These are just a few Carnival/Mardi Gras options out there, but we here at Shoreline are very happy to send you to the scenes of some of the finest parties on the globe. Now how about you? Tell us in the comments where you would like to celebrate Carnival!

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