CARNIVAL TRADITIONS WORLDWIDE
In the Catholic culture, Carnival represents the end of Epiphany, a long period of deprivation from animal-free products for religious practitioners. The Italian word for Carnival is “Carnevale”, which is derived from the Latin expression “carnem levare”, which stands for “remove meat”.
In Italy, this period is very much celebrated, especially in Venice where the feast used to go on for weeks. Around the 1700s, the celebration ritual stops because of the fall of the Republic of Venice and revives with the 20th Century with massive tourism traveling to Venice particularly for this event. Carnevale is celebrated in multiple other Italian cities in the north. This celebration period is the occasion to bake a large variety of sweets such as “Chiacchiere”, “Cannoli” or “Fritole Veneziane”. As for savory foods, the tendency is to pasta, especially gnocchi, lasagna and Tortelli.
The catholic influence is massively important in Brazil’s celebrations as well. The Carnival of Rio is an international event that goes on for 4 days with people dancing, eating spicy dishes and drinking lots of water to stay hydrated during the hottest month of the Southern hemisphere. The hot sun influences the day menu including fish or chicken dishes. At night, the feast is more copious: “Feijoada” is Brazil’s most famous dish at this time of the year. Feijoada is a hearty platter composed of diverse sliced meats with rice, black beans, hearts of palms salad, hot pepper and orange slices. In 2010, the Carnival of Rio recorded about 740 000 visitors.
In France, the Carnival celebration is called “Mardi Gras” or “Fat Tuesday” in English. On this specific day, you find sweet pastries in all bakeries, mostly pancakes and “beignets”, the equivalent of doughnuts. The biggest celebrations take place in Nice, in the south of France two weeks before Lent.
In Luxembourg, the “Fuesent” period starts on February the 2nd with the Candlemas, “Liichtmesdag”. The Luxembourgish Carnival traditions go back to 1870 with the earliest records from Diekirch. The festivities continue until “Aschermettwoch”. During the festivals and cavalcades, Luxembourgers lick the sugar off their fingers with “Fuesendkichelcher” (doughnuts) or “Nonnefascht”, a knotted pastry covered with icing. History says that young men used to dress up on Fuesméindeg and collect eggs from house to house in the small villages of Luxembourg, These eggs, which came from a different farm every year, were then used by the women to bake pancakes “Paangecher”, waffles “eisekuchen”, and of course “Fuesendkichelcher”.
Although traditions and celebrations have changed over the years, Luxembourg remains a country that is very fond of celebrating Carnival, a tradition called “Fuesbal”, during which people dress up in funny costumes and dance on loud, carnival music while savoring a greasy doughnut with a fresh beer!