Carnaval, Mardi Gras, Lent, and the Bible

2007 Carnival at Pátio de São Pedro square, in Recife, Brazil (Wiki Photo)


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

Here is one report about it:

Although the origins of Carnaval are shrouded in mystery, some believe the fest began as a pagan celebrationof spring’s arrival sometime during the Middle Ages. The Portuguese brought the celebration to Brazil in the 1500s, but it took on a decidedly local flavor by adopting Indian costumes and African rhythms. The word itself probably derives from the Latin carne vale,” or goodbye meat,” a reference to the Catholic tradition of giving up meat (and other fleshly temptations) during 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.

The origins of this are not a complete mystery as the sixth edition of the Columbia Encyclopedia:

Carnival communal celebration, especially the religious celebration in Catholic countries that takes place just before Lent…

One of the first recorded instances of an annual spring festival is the festival of Osiris in Egypt; it commemorated the renewal of life brought about by the yearly flooding of the Nile. In Athens, during the 6th cent. BC, a yearly celebration in honor of the god Dionysus was the first recorded instance of the use of a float.

It was during the Roman Empire that carnivals reached an unparalleled peak of civil disorder and licentiousness. The major Roman carnivals were the Bacchanalia, the Saturnalia, and the Lupercalia. In Europe the tradition of spring fertility celebrations persisted well into Christian times, where carnivals reached their peak during the 14th and 15th cent.

Because carnivals are deeply rooted in pagan superstitions and the folklore of Europe, the Roman Catholic Church was unable to stamp them out and finally accepted many of them as part of church activity (

Essentially, this is a pagan holiday that some Catholics originally adopted as a compromise to keep members in certain areas.

Despite its origins, many Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, and others will participate in the revelries associated with carnival.

Essentially Carnaval is a time when some believe that they can indulge to excess as they will need to give up some of those excesses if they observe a time called Lent.

Mardi Gras is French for “Fat Tuesday” and is the day before Ash Wednesday. Some seem to believe that they need to excessively indulge prior to a religious season of some type of abstinence.

The popularity of carnaval has spread from outside of Brazil, Venice, and New Orleans as many look for any excuse for a party. And it would seem that most who attend such parties are not that interested in actually its “religious” connection.  Speaking of New Orleans, it seems to be having tornado problems:

Louisiana:The storm that killed Granger was one of at least two twisters tied to a weather system that has caused major damage in the state and wreaked havoc on Mardi Gras festivities.” CNN – March 6, 2011

Of course, Mardi Gras festivities are not biblical.

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.

Carnaval 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.

Some articles of possibly related interest may include:

Mexico, Central America, South America, and Brazil in Prophecy [Español: México, America Central, Suramérica, y el Brasil en profecíal] [Português: México, América Central, Ámérica do Sul, e Brasil na profecia] What will happen to those of Latin America? Will they have prosperity? Will they cooperate with Europe? Will they suffer in the future? What rule might the various Caribbean nations/territories play?
Is Lent a Christian Holiday? When did it originate? What about Ash Wednesday? If you observe them, do you know why?
The Ten Commandments Reflect Love, Breaking them is Evil
Some feel that the ten commandments are a burden. Is that what Jesus, Paul, Peter, James, and John taught?
Mardi Gras: The Devil’s Carnival?
Do you know that in Bolivia the carnival/Mardi Gras time is part of a celebration known as the Devil’s Carnival?

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