Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Carnival 2014: Prelude


This is the opening overture, the first of a planned series of 8 posts about Carnival--the world's biggest party. Carnival is the name for pre-Lenten festivities celebrated in grand style mostly in the predominantly Catholic regions of Europe and the Americas. I am interested in sharing a few personal perspectives on Carnivals past, present, and future.

I grew up Protestant in Nebraska and I am proud of  it. One of the reasons I am who I am is that I grew up in appreciation of the simple things, like:

  • faith and family, 
  • the great outdoors, 
  • the virtue of hard work, 
  • the value of being--and of having--a good neighbor, 
  • respect for elders, and 
  • a deep and abiding reverence for place and home. 

Urban kids, 
you don't even know 
what you are missing.

But the flip side of the same coin has also been significant in shaping me. The lack of stimulation in my small town drove me to leave home, go to a big name University out of state, join the Army, and see the world.

Now, some 35 years after I left home, I can look back on the fun, travel, and adventure of 5 years at Notre Dame, 28 years in the Army, and 2 years on my own with a sense of pleasure and accomplishment. In what I hope is the middle of what I hope will be a long life, I aim to carry the basic values of my youth while tightly gripping the handlebars of wanderlust...

A beer can collector spotted this unusual
beauty in my home state of Nebraska

Being Protestant and living in Nebraska, I did not discover Carnival until I left home and attended a Catholic University. When I was young, we celebrated Easter, but the austerity of Lent was not part of our tradition, and neither was the idea of  a pre-Lent party in which the next 40 days of sins were committed in advance, in one glorious week of debauchery.

This image captures the allure of Carnival

What follows in subsequent posts is a summary of my own experience of Carnival in New Orleans, Italy, and Germany, as well as planned trips to Brazil and Daytona, plus a little about how we celebrate Carnival in my current home of Alexandria. 

Watch this space for the next installments, and if you are so inclined, share a memory of what Carnival means to you.

Enjoy! or, as they say in New Orleans,

Let the Good Times Roll!