Do you want to know something about the most popular Carnivals in the UK and the United States? The Notting Hill Carnival in London and Mardi Grass in New Orleans.
Carnival is a Christian festive season that occurs before the Christian season of Lent. The main events typically occur during February or early March – depending on Easter-, during the period historically known as Shrovetide or Pre-Lent.
Shrove Tuesday, known in some countries as Pancake Tuesday or Pancake day, is the day preceding Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. In other countries it is called Mardi Gras –Fat Tuesday- or some translation of it. This is the last day of "fat eating" and the end of Carnival season.
Some of the best-known traditions, including carnal parades and masquerade balls, were first recorded in medieval Italy. The carnival of Venice was, for a long time, the most famous carnival. From Italy, Carnival traditions spread to Spain, Portugal and France and from France to New France in North America. From Spain and Portugal it spread with colonization to the Caribbean and Latin America.
Other areas developed their own traditions. In the United Kingdom, West Indian immigrants brought with them the traditions of Caribbean Carnival, however the Carnivals now celebrated at Notting Hill, Leeds, Yorkshire, and other places became divorced from their religious origin and became secular events that take place in the summer months.
Notting Hill Carnival
This annual event has taken place in London since 1966, on the streets of Notting Hill, Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, each August over two days. It attracts around one million people annually, making it one of the world's largest street festivals, and a significant event in British culture.
Despite its name, this is one of the events which is not part of the global Carnival season preceding Lent. It has many elements of Caribbean Carnival and is very reminiscent of Jamaican dancehall sessions due to the sounding of the event. The fact that the sound systems are in the streets creates an environment where participants hear the sounds before they can actually see the systems themselves.
New Orleans Mardi Gras
New Orleans, Louisiana, celebrates Mardi Gras about two weeks before and through Shrove Tuesday. Usually there is one major parade each day, although some days may have several large ones. The largest and most elaborate parades take place the last five days of the Mardi Gras season along with masquerade balls.
The parades in New Orleans are organized by social clubs known as krewes; most follow the same parade schedule and route each year. Float riders traditionally toss throws into the crowds; the most common throws are strings of colorful plastic beads and doubloons. The official Mardi Gras colours are purple, which represents justice, grean means faith and gold signifies power.