Settle Down, Carnaval Time Is Over

This is a biggie in Mexico and especially in Ensenada
BY: REN DRAKE HILL

Carnaval, also known as Mardi Gras, Shrove Tuesday, and even Fat Tuesday, is more than one day of partying in Mexico. Here Carnaval begins a full week before Lent; and nowhere in Baja is it celebrated with more gusto than in Ensenada, with parades, costumes and frivolity. And no, we have not spelled it incorrectly, we’re giving it the Spanish spelling.

This year the official Mexican holiday occurs from February 3 through 9, as revelers indulge in food, drink and fun before fasting for the 40 days of Lent, which ends on Easter Sunday.  This is supposed to represent Jesus Christ’s days of fasting.

The heaviest partying occurs on the weekend before Ash Wednesday. The principal parade occurs on Sunday, with the biggest and most elaborate floats, well, parading around, and featuring the newly crowned Queen and King.

Many Catholics still give up eating meat during Lent, although many people give up other indulgences, including sweets, alcohol, and yes, even chocolate!

The Mardi Gras celebration is a time for people to get all the partying out of their systems in preparation for the solemnity and deprivations of Lent.

Parades may be the most identifiable activities of Carnaval but there is so much more! Street fairs and small carnivals pop up with rides, games, and animals; and of course the traditional carny games of chance.

 One of the most popular activities is the throwing and breaking of hollowed out egg shells filled with confetti, called cascarones.

 Many revelers wear costumes and masks to the festivities, which also include mariachis, dancing groups, bands, and DJs.

One of the initial events is the Burning of the Bad Mood, where an effigy of an unpopular figure, usually political, is burned. This symbolizes the burning away of bad thoughts and worries, and allowing boisterous celebrating to occur. No doubt this year Donald Trump figures will be pummeled.

Carnaval differs throughout the world, but many of the major elements are similar.  There is always a Carnaval Queen, traditionally crowned on Saturday. In lieu of a Carnaval King, silliness wins out and an Ugly King, or El Rey Feo is often crowned.

Monday is branded El Dia del Marido Oprimido, or the Day of the Oppressed Husband. This is the one and only day of the year that husbands are allowed to do as they please. Go ahead and light up that cigar in the house; feel free to leave dirty socks on the floor. Live it up!

Fat Tuesday, so named because this is the final day for stuffing oneself with food and drink before the solemn Lenten fasting season starts, concludes the revelry. Many churches and service organizations offer pancake breakfasts for the community. On this day another effigy, Juan Carnaval, is burned; this one representing all that Carnaval represents. It is now time to calm down, get serious, and prepare for Easter.

There will be reveling from Tijuana to Ensenada. Many hotels offer Carnaval packages, so expect an influx of people from the north.