“It’s time for CARNIVAL! We have only just headed out of the fun and excitement of “la dia de Los Reyes” and then slumped a bit into the darker and colder end to the year, then... Wooomp! Carnival comes along as an essential huge pick me up! This year’s carnival arrives on the 12th and runs until the 18th of February.
Carnival is said to originate from the Christian ritual of Lent. Carnival, which falls at the start of Lent, was seen as the time to purge oneself of all excesses before the fasting and contemplation of the seriousness of Lent. In the UK this is also the significance of Shrove Tuesday or Pancake Day; a time to eat the fats and sugars before the fasting. The first recorded descriptions of the big parades and dressing up come from medieval Italy, particularly the Venice carnival. These celebrations and traditions slowly spread across the continents of Spain and Portugal and then to Latin America and the Caribbean. Carnival happens all across Catalonia the most famous being in Sitges, Vilanova i la Geltru, Tarragona and Solsona. There is so much to see and experience! Carnival is a riot of noise; whistles, drums and heady pounding beats, brilliant excesses of colour, a sparkle of sequins and a swish of feathers! You can join in the sweet and sticky “Merangue” throwing (Vlanova), try to dodge the Pissing Donkey (Solsona), squeeze into outrageous costumes and dance along with (up to) 300,000 people in Sitges at the “Rua de la Disbauxa” (route of debauchery). You will for sure encounter stunningly handsome carnival kings and queens, who preside over the festivities, dance with or run away from Giants, Dragons, Ox’s and Devils. You can eat feasts of omelettes and then finally weep and grieve at “the death of the sardine” and watch the fiesta die on the Ash Wednesday. There is no real reason, however, to be sad as the festival dies, you can rejoice in the knowledge that life in Spain provides these jolts of celebration although the year and that the next fun and frolics of a fiesta are only around the next corner!