Mardi Gras: The Devil’s Carnival?

Carnival is Not Endorsed in the Bible


The day before “Ash Wednesday” is sometimes called “fat Tuesday” or Mardi Gras and marks the end of the season known as “carnival” or “carnaval” (which is several days to many weeks long depending upon the culture).  Essentially it is a time of having parties and indulging in practices that Catholics believe that they should give up on Ash Wednesday for the duration of Lent.

Here are two reports about the version in Bolivia:

Devil’s Carnival (La Diablada)
When:  19 – 23 Feb 2009 (annual), Where: Oruro
Every spring, Oruro goes into carnival mode. The costumes on show are phenomenal and include anything from llama herders to Amazonian Indians sporting feathered head-dresses. The combination of colour, outlandish masks, music, dance and fireworks is bound to leave you wide-eyed.
One of the highlights are the devil dancers, the tradition of which derives from a peculiar kind of devil worship. Oruro is a mining town and the locals, spending so much time underground, decided to adopt a god of the underworld. Christian tradition dictates that this must be the devil and the Oruro faithful thus adopted Satan, or Supay, as their god.

They would perform sacrifices to the devil on a regular basis to ensure their safety in the mines and the devil dancing in the carnival derives from their belief in Satan as their protector underground.

Festivals To Get You Going
FF, UK – Feb 18, 2009
When: The 10 days around Ash Wednesday
Where: Oruro, Bolivia
What: The Oruro Carnival is Bolivia’s largest annual celebration which draws in about 400,000 people every year thanks to it’s extraordinary centrepiece, La Diablada – The Dance Of The Devil.
The 4km long procession takes place on the Sunday before Ash Wednesday and features so many entertainers that it can actually last up to 20 hours. The whole debacle follows a brightly costumes San Miguel character, and behind him come the more famous devils and a whole host of other beings.

The chief devil, Lucifer, get’s treated to the best costume, obviously, and swans around in a velvet cape and ornate mask, naturally. The rest of the procession follows and is drenched in jewels and precious metals with offerings for the owner of the underground minerals, El Tio.

When the procession arrives at the city’s football stadium there is a huge performance which shows the battle between good and evil – wow, that must take some dedicated choreographer! After it is apparent that good has triumphed over evil – horary – the dancers can finally head home and put their feet up. The festival continues throughout the week before the grand finale on the Monday after Ash Wednesday, which is known ad the Dia del Agua – the day of water – and involves everyone pelting each other with water bombs.

Celebrations for the devil and/or his plan would seem highly inappropriate for those who profess to follow Jesus.  Jesus did not observe anything like Mardis Gras or Carnaval, nor did His disciples or their real followers.  In the Spring time, they observed days such as Passover and Pentecost; the Bible is clear about this (Luke 2:41-42; 22:7-13; Acts 2:1).

Of course, not only is carnival not in the Bible, neither are Ash Wednesday or Lent (they did not come until centuries after the original apostles died) as none of them are original practices of the true Church.  Nor are any practices of the Living Church of God today (we observe the same days that Jesus and His disciples did, like Passover and Pentecost).

Wikipedia states:

Carnival is a festival traditionally held in Roman Catholic and, to a lesser extent, Eastern Orthodox societies. Protestant areas usually do not have carnival celebrations or have modified traditions, such as the Danish Carnival. The Brazilian Carnaval is the longest celebration today, but many cities and regions worldwide celebrate with large, popular events. These include the Carnevale of Venice, Italy, of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Canary Islands; of Torres Vedras, Portugal; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Rijeka, Croatia; Barranquilla, Colombia; and Trinidad and Tobago. In the United States, the famous Mardi Gras celebrations in New Orleans, Louisiana, and Mobile, Alabama, date back to French and Spanish colonial times…

An inspiration for the carnival traditionally was that it marked the last time for celebration and special foods before Lent. The Lenten period was marked by practices of fasting, restricted food, and pious practices. Traditionally, no parties were held and people refrained from eating rich foods, such as meat, and in some cases, dairy, fats and sugar. The forty days of Lent serve to mark an annual time of turning to God and religious discipline.

While it is an integral part of the Christian calendar, parts of the carnival traditions likely reach back to pre-Christian times. The ancient Roman festivals of the Saturnalia and Bacchanalia may have been absorbed in the Italian Carnival. The Saturnalia, in turn, may be based on the Greek Dionysia and Oriental festivals. While medieval pageants and festivals such as Corpus Christi were church-sanctioned celebrations, carnival was also a manifestation of medieval folk culture. Many local carnival customs are based on local pre-Christian rituals, for example the elaborate rites involving masked figures in the Swabian-Alemannic carnival.

Yes, many Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, and others will participate in the revelries associated with carnival.  And many will also observe Lent.

Here is some of what the American Catholic reports about it:

Mardi Gras, literally “Fat Tuesday,” has grown in popularity in recent years as a raucous, sometimes hedonistic event…Carnival comes from the Latin words carne vale, meaning “farewell to the flesh.” Like many Catholic holidays and seasonal celebrations, it likely has its roots in pre-Christian traditions based on the seasons. (Catholic Roots of Mardi Gras.  American Catholic.

Essentially, this is a pagan holiday that the Catholics adopted as a compromise to keep members. Participants eat a lot (hence the name “fat Tuesday”) before they begin a fast now called Lent–another observance with pagan origins.  Parades involving under-clothed women are common.

Of course, Mardi Gras festivities are not biblical, despite their popularity.

Lent, which also is not of biblical origin, is becoming an excuse essentially for loud and wild parties all over the world, which stop the night before it.  Which would be tonight.

Mardi Gras tends to be associated with drunkenness, lust, and other practices that the Bible condemns.

It really should not be considered as something that real Christians would participate in.

The practices associated with Mardis Gras and Carnaval have “pre-Christian origins” and are not endorsed in the Bible.  Partially because of their observance, they result in people not understanding God’s plan of salvation for them.

Perhaps those who profess Christ should follow His example and observe the same days that He did in the Spring, such as Passover.

Some articles of possibly related interest may include:

Is Lent a Christian Holiday? When did it originate? What about Ash Wednesday? If you observe them, do you know why?
Hope of Salvation: How the Living Church of God differ from most Protestants How the Living Church of God differs from mainstream/traditional Protestants, is perhaps the question I am asked most by those without a Church of God background.
Which Is Faithful: The Roman Catholic Church or the Living Church of God? Do you know that both groups shared a lot of the earliest teachings? Do you know which church changed? Do you know which group is most faithful to the teachings of the apostolic church? Which group best represents true Christianity? This documented article answers those questions. Português: Qual é fiel: A igreja católica romana ou a igreja viva do deus? Tambien Español: Cuál es fiel: ¿La iglesia católica romana o La Iglesia del Dios Viviente? Auch: Deutsch: Welches zuverlässig ist: Die Römisch-katholische Kirche oder die lebende Kirche von Gott?
Some Similarities and Differences Between the Orthodox Church and the Living Church of God Both groups claim to be the original church, but both groups have differing ways to claim it. Both groups have some amazing similarities and some major differences. Do you know what they are?
Is There “An Annual Worship Calendar” In the Bible? This paper provides a biblical and historical critique of several articles, including one by WCG which states that this should be a local decision. What do the Holy Days mean? Also you can click here for the calendar of Holy Days.
Passover and the Early Church Did the early Christians observe Passover? What did Jesus and Paul teach? Why did Jesus die for our sins?
Melito’s Homily on the Passover This is one of the earliest Christian writings about the Passover. This also includes what Apollinaris wrote on the Passover as well.
Should Christians Keep the Days of Unleavened Bread? Do they have any use or meaning now? What is leaven? This article supplies some biblical answers.

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