Brazil Carnival: Rooted in ancient rites of spring and pleasures of wine

Sophy Nie – Shanghai Daily, 02/06/2012

CARNIVAL comes from the Latin words carne meaning flesh and vale, meaning farewell. Thus, it’s farewell to pleasures of the flesh until after Easter.

The festival dates back to the ancient Greek spring rites and celebration in honor of Dionysus, the god of wine. Romans honored their wine god Bacchus and revelry was unrestrained. Participants often wore masks, danced and cavorted. Such Bacchanals were linked with the Roman Saturnalia, when masters and slaves would exchange clothes for a day of drunken revelry.

The Roman Catholic Church modified the Saturnalia into a festival leading up to Ash Wednesday, and it quickly evolved into a massive celebration of indulgences.

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