Difference between revisions of "Carnival"

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'''''[[eMzantsi Carnival]]''''' (annually in December, Fish Hoek)
'''''[[eMzantsi Carnival]]''''' (annually in December, Fish Hoek)
''[[Siyagiya Durban International Music & Cultural Carnival]]'' (December in Durban - 2012 and 2013)
''[[Siyagiya Durban International Music and Cultural Carnival]]'' (December in Durban - 2012 and 2013)
== Special form: The student [[carnival]], [[jool]] or [[rag]]==
== Special form: The student [[carnival]], [[jool]] or [[rag]]==

Revision as of 05:49, 25 March 2019

Carnival is a term broadly referring to a specific kind of public event and entertainment.

Please note: Karnaval, the Afrikaans term for carnival, also occurs as the name of a South African play by Pieter-Dirk Uys. For more on the play go to the entry on Karnaval.

See also Festival

Origins and history

The event has its roots in a traditional Christian celebration which marks the beginning of Lent, the period of 40 days before Easter during which no meat is eaten. The word is thus derived from the Latin phrase "carnem levare" (to remove/set aside the meat).

The term became in turn carnevale in Italian, carnival in English, carnaval in Dutch, karnaval in Afrikaans, karneval in some instances in German, etc.). (Also referred to as Mardi Gras[1] in many instances). Most often associated with Christian festivities, notably Lent, though in some cases more broadly used to refer to other kinds street processionals and celebratory events, unrelated to religious celebrations or rituals.

Bakhtin and the idea of the carnivalesque

A term created by Mikhail Bakhtin (1895-1975)[2] in works such as Problems of Dostoevsky’s Poetics (1929) and Rabelais and His World (1965), where he points out that in the carnivals of popular culture, social hierarchies of everyday life are profaned and overturned: fools become wise, kings become beggars, while opposites are mingled (for example fact and fantasy, heaven and hell). Most importantly, there are no hierarchical positions during carnival, ideologies that routinely inhabit people's lives, simply do not exist for the duration of the carnival.

This notion of an inverted or even egalitarian order, is immensely important in any discussion of something like the Mardi Gras in New Orleans (see August Staub, 1992, for example) and the Coon Carnival in 19th and 20th century Cape Town.


August Staub[3]] (1992) ‘The social uses of festival: Transformation and disfiguration’ South African Theatre Journal (SATJ), Volume 6:1, pp. 4-24.



Carnivals and carnival-like events in South Africa

For more on the individual events, click on the appropriate name in the list below to go to the entry in question.

Cape Minstrel Carnival - also known as the Cape Carnival, the Kaapse Klopse or (historically) the Coon Carnival (annually on 2 January, Cape Town)

Durban Cultural Carnival (Annually in October, Durban)

eMzantsi Carnival (annually in December, Fish Hoek)

Siyagiya Durban International Music and Cultural Carnival (December in Durban - 2012 and 2013)

Special form: The student carnival, jool or rag

A special form of such activity is the annual festival or parade staged for charity by students at tertiary institutions in the country, some of which have been dubbed a Karnaval or a Carnival. However, such events are more commonly known as a Rag in English (referring to a programme of stunts, parades, and other entertainments organized by students to raise money for charity during "rag week", deriving from the notion of a "rag" as a boisterous prank or practical joke)[4], and a Jool in Afrikaans ("Jool" is related to the word "jolyt", derived from the Dutch word "jool", first found in the meaning of "a festival" or "jollification" in 1852.)[5]

Immaterial of the term used, in form these events all display strong carnivalesque qualities.

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