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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.

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.

See also Festival

The idea of the carnivalesque

Carnivals in South Africa

eMzantsi Carnival (annually in December, Fish Hoek)

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

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)[2], 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.)[3]

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

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