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A pageant is a particular form of celebratory public event, often a dramatization of a historical, political or social occurrence.

According to the Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary (© 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd.)[1] the term pageant derives from the Middle English pagyn, pagaunt, which in turn may refer to the Anglo-Latin pāgina (=stage, scene, platform), and can refer to a range of public events, including "1. an elaborate costumed procession or parade, often with floats, forming part of public or social festivities; 2. an elaborate public spectacle illustrative of the history of a place, institution, or the like; 3. something comparable to such a spectacle or procession in its variety or grandeur: the pageant of Renaissance history; 4. a show or exhibition: e.g a beauty pageant; or 5. (in medieval times) a platform on which scenes from mystery plays were presented".

Other terms often associated with (or used in place of ) pageant are carnival (see entry), tableau (more specifically in the sense of a "tableau vivant"[2], i.e. "living picture") and historical enactment.

In ESAT the term pageant largely appears as a reference to theatrical events of the kind listed above under items 1 and 2, and particulars of such South African pageants are discussed in the entries listed under Stage Plays - and specifically in the sub-section PLAYS IV: Pageants, carnivals and public performances.

Some events specifically referred to as pageants

The Pageant of South Africa,

The Pageant of Union,

Africa – A Revel Pageant,

South African Pageant of Union,

Stellenbosch Tercentenary Celebrations.


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