At the end of February or the beginning of March, Carnival is celebrated every year, a festival whose origin is known to be pagan but which is somehow “accepted” by the Christian church if we take into account that they have used these festivals to coincide with the Christian calendar of Lent and Holy Week . So what is Carnival for Christians and what does the Bible say about this holiday?
What is Carnival for Christians and what does the Bible say about this holiday?
Carnival has certainly distant roots in time, but difficult to reconstruct in detail. Over time it has evolved until it is related to the Christian environment as a counterpoint to Lent . The very name of Carnaval seems to derive from the Latin expression “carnem levare”, which refers to abstinence from meat that lasts for the next forty days.
That Carnival ends with the beginning of Lent seems quite obvious (or, at least, it should be), while it is much more complex to establish when it begins since it is established according to precisely that Lent, the lunar phases and also how not , in relation to Holy Week. In fact, the main reason has to do with the celebration of Easter Sunday, which varies according to the lunar calendar.
But what is the reason for this relationship between carnival and the celebrations of the Christian church ? We know that carnival is born in some way as the celebration of the Roman festival of Saturnalia, in which masters and slaves exchanged roles for a single day. This hiccup of democracy in a strongly classist society like the Roman one had as its objective the maintenance of social peace. Even for a very short time, the subordinate could legitimately take revenge on whoever tyrannized him.
A completely pagan holiday that however, was somehow recovered in the medieval age by the Christian church to somehow allow some freedom to Christians in the period before Lent marked by austerity.
In this way, the mixture between the pagan and the religious developed, until Carnival became a festival that has nothing to do with religion, but is part of the celebrations close to Holy Week and, therefore, is consider one more holiday than many Christians celebrate.
The bible and the costumes
In addition, the carnival of today has nothing to do with the great excesses that it celebrated in the past or in its origins. Nowadays it is a party in which costumes and the use of masks are extolled, despite the fact that the bible precisely makes the odd mention of it although it is not referring to carnival directly.
In fact it is written: ” Woman shall not dress as a man, and man shall not dress as a woman, for the LORD your God hates anyone who does such things” (Deut. 22: 5), so apart from other interpretations it is clear that the bible does not seem to share the idea or the concept that someone disguises even for a single day.