Paris Hotels Articles

August 2, 2010

The celebration of Carnival in Paris, France

People are no doubt musing about some of the great carnivals taking place around the world at this present time, but after eight years of living in Paris I descovered that one takes place in Paris. There should be a world law that dictates every six weeks, all cities across the globe should have a massive full on carnival. A friend informed me of this event taking place in the afternoon and early evening. Apparently, according to the official web site the Paris carnival has been in existence some 500 years, but the carnival I witnessed, was nowhere near on the scale of the Notting hill gate carnival which takes place every year in London, with up to a million people gathering, in this well known area of London. I remember some Brazilians I knew scoffing at the Notting hill carnival, which no doubt they seemed far inferior in comparison to those of their native land. I must say I really enjoyed the Parisian carnival There was little chance of getting crushed (unlike the Notting hill carnival) and it had an array of eccentric looking people, who were unshackled in their desire to look different, and project whatever they fancied punks, rastas, children, old people, a wide gamut odd oddballs and crazy people. I could hear the pounding of drums, as I was going up the escalator from the metro. The carnival was an hour old. There were quite a number of Brazilian drum bands., one of them mostly female who swayed to the rhythms. How they managed to keep this up for four hours, while climbing hills and carrying their weighty looking drums, was beyond me. We walked past Pere Lachaise, I wonder if the dead were stirred by the music and the din of the cortege. There was a clown dressed in an old fashioned Police uniform, who seemed to delight in motioning the posse forward, with culinary items, sat on some vantage point. Some people had created elaborate costumes or were pushing along animals or other creations pertinent to themselves. At the head of the trailing crowd was a bulky looking cow, who I felt some sorry for, clobbering along in an unusual urban environment. The cow serves the purpose of warning people not to eat meat during lent. In deed the carnival takes place during the pre-lent period (a Christian symbolic penitence from Ash Wednesday to Easter) a custom which originated in the middle of the second century in Rome when the Fast of the 40 days of Lent was preceded by a feast of several days during which time participants delivered themselves up to voluntary madness, put on masks, clothed themselves like spectres, gave themselves up to Bacchus and Venus and considered all pleasure allowable. The word “carnival” means in Latin “to take away eating meat”. I cant imagine that in this day and age the French would be put off eating meat, the country of stoic meat eaters that they are. Some were there to honour traditions, others to have a good time and to strut about to the pulsating rhythms.

I question various French people to see if they knew about this carnival, but it seemed many were unaware of it’s existance. If you happen to be in Paris around the 18th of February, why not search for this little known carnival, it will be well worth your while trudging the streets of Paris, following a real cow.

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