In the past, a great number of cultures were connected to the joy and color of carnival celebrations. It is said that its origins are directly related to ancient Rome, where they worshiped Momo, the god of sarcasm, who was also in charge of entertaining the gods of Olympus.
During the 16th Century, the Roman Empire took these traditions to different regions of Africa and Europe, though later, with the expansion of Christianism in Medieval times, these celebrations were considered heresy.
For a time, the world forgot about these colorful celebrations; however, with the arrival of the Renaissance, carnivals achieved a new boom in Rome and Venice, which swiftly arrived in France and later, in Spain.
Regarding the etymology of the word “carnival”, some say that it comes from the time when Pope Saint Gregory the Great, established the Sunday before Lent, as the day to leave carnal sins behind, defined by the term “carne levamen” which shortly turned into “carnavale”, and whose Latin translation is “goodbye meat”.
Another meaning that can be given to the word “carnival” is the one that comes from the wheeled barges (or carrus navalis in Latin), which were used for taking through the streets the representative gods of the different regions where the carnival tradition was adopted.
Traditions of Veracruz
It is no secret that Veracruz is a state filled with traditions and cultural expressions in the shape of festivals, music, folklore, gastronomy, and of course, the recognized carnival that takes place annually since 1866, when the country was still governed by the emperor Maximilian of Habsburg.
Back then, the Jarocho people used to celebrate “The Masks Party”, which were celebrations with dances where the guests wore costumes for attending different halls where the society got together. Though these parties took place in enclosed spaces, while they moved through the streets, the attendants who were already wearing their colorful attires made the most to show them in public. This journey was so remarkable that people started to gather around to see all these exotic characters as they passed by.
So much excitement this tradition caused among the population that the government decided to regulate carnivals, giving birth to the great celebration of the parades that currently make up the Carnival of Veracruz.
Carnival of Veracruz 2022
Each year, the Carnival of Veracruz is carried out a few days before Ash Wednesday, depending on Easter; therefore, it is not possible to establish a specific date.
In 2022, The Carnival of Veracruz was celebrated from Wednesday, February 23 through Tuesday, March 1, starting with the traditional “Bad Mood Burning”. During this event, the effigy of a political figure that is unpleasant to the Jarocho people is set on fire. This represents leaving all worries behind, clearing the way for the carnival’s joy.
Parade of Veracruz
One of the most emblematic moments before the beginning of the parade is the coronation of the carnival’s royalty, who will be in charge of leading the festivities. According to this tradition, the queen is chosen among local beauties, while the king represents Roman mythology’s god Momo.
The carnival party is filled with lights, fireworks, music, joy, and lots of fun. That is why it brings together locals and visitors, who visit Veracruz seeking to have fun with all the parades’ excitement.
To conclude the Carnival of Veracruz, a figure known as Juan Carnaval (John Carnival) is buried, marking the end of all celebrations, always on Tuesday, as the following day will be Ash Wednesday, and the beginning of the Lent’s purification stage.
Learn more about the traditional Carnival of Veracruz, and save the date of the 2023 edition at the official website of the Veracruz Government.