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Emily Whiting Emily Whiting

Carnival - Celebrations Around the World
Throughout Central and South America as well as in the Caribbean and even Europe, a festive season occurs immediately before Lent with the main events usually happening during February. Carnival generally involves a public celebration or parade of sexy women with ornate costumes and men dancing down the streets. Spectators often dress up for these events, which celebrate a parody of routine daily life.

Carnival is traditionally held in areas around the world with a large Catholic population. In Argentina, the most representative Carnival celebrated is the so-called Murga, although other well known Carnivals are held in the Argentine Mesopotamia and in the northeast area of the country. Gualeguaychu, in the east of Entre Rios province, is the most important Argentinian carnival city and has one of the largest street parades. Corrientes is another city with an excellent Carnival tradition.

La Diablada Carnival takes place in the city of Oruro located in central Bolivia. It is celebrated in honor of the patron saint of the miners, Virgen de Socavon - the Virgin of the Tunnels. Over 50 parade groups dance, sing, play music and basically go crazy over a five kilometer route. The people involved in the parade dress up as demons, devils, angels, Incas and Spanish conquerors. There are various kinds of dances such as caporales and tinkus. The parade runs from morning until late in the evening, 18 hours a day, on the 3 days before Ash Wednesday.

In Santa Cruz de la Sierra, on the east side of Bolivia, the tropical weather allows them to have a Brazilian-style Carnival, with people called Comparsas dancing traditional songs and parading in matching uniforms. In 2001 it was declared one of the Masterpieces of Oral Heritage and Intangible Heritage of Humanity for Brazil by UNESCO.

The Carnival in Uruguay is the longest in the world - with more than 40 days of celebration. It usually begins towards the end of January and runs through mid March with celebrations in Montevideo, the capital, being the largest and brightest. Their festival is performed in the European parade style with elements from Bantu and Angolan Benguela cultures imported with slaves in colonial times. The main attractions of Uruguayan Carnival include two colorful parades called Desfile de Carnival - Carnival Parade, and Desfile de Llamadas - Calls Parade, a candombe - summoning parade.

Even though Carnival is celebrated around the world it is best known by the images that come from the celebrations in the Caribbean, South and Central America.

See the sounds and colours of Carnival in South America, as well as the Top Ten Carnivals in the World.


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