The long dark nights and short days of January are almost behind us and February is the season of Carnaval. This huge, festive time of celebration, indulgence and partying occurs before the Christian church enters into Lent on Ash Wednesday. This year Carnival is February 11-17.
Interestingly ‘carnival’ means the end or farewell to meat. It comes from Latin “carn” meaning flesh or meat and “levare” meaning to put away. The celebration dates from the 12th century Italy.
In the United States Carnival or Mardi Gras is celebrated most famously in New Orleans. Here in Baja it has its biggest celebrations in La Paz and Ensenada. The celebration is marked with parades, costumes and eating and drinking.
Masks are often part of the celebration. They were thought to provide protection from evil spirits; but, also, and perhaps more importantly, the masks provided anonymity for the wearer. You can find one in most Mexican gift shops.