Saturday, 28 February 2009

Mardi Gras

You are all surely very familiar with the significance of Mardi Gras (fat Tuesday!) so I won't go into it all for you. However I will tell you about how it is celebrated here and I have stolen some of Evs' and Mum's photos as my camera, lovely as it is, just doesn't do night ones!
Regular readers of this blog will know that there have been carnival groups parading around the town mostly on Sunday evenings since Christmas as they prepare for the Real Deal during Carnival Week. Each Saturday a particular town or two welcomes all the groups from all over the island for a parade, however, this didn't happen this year due to the strike. Then on Mardi Gras the folk are supposed to go to Pointe a Pitre for a Big Parade which has all sorts of contests - best costumes etc - none of which happened, again due to the strike.

Instead we had a few of our local groups parade round late in the evening dressed up in amazing costumes - they had hats as big as their bodies! Must steal Mum's photo of them! We went and watched with our oh so very excited girls (who have got the carnival walk mastered down to a t!) and had a late night as a result. The funniest part was LissaLou has been very proud of her lack of fear in the face of the masks worn by one group (monkey or old hag ones) - in distinct contrast to her mum and sister! Not so tonight! The monkey came dancing up to her and she crept further and further back eventually hiding herself behind me! She was able to laugh it off afterwards.
Mardi Gras is celebrated in the UK with pancakes (Shrove Tuesday) so Bertie kindly made us some of his delicious ones. However, here they celebrate with beignets, which actually means doughnuts but as Bertie pointed out, they aren't really doughnuts as we know them (perhaps beignets pays...!). Here are a batch made by Mamie - they are much less sweet (I think the only sugar is what they are dipped in) and very tasty. We polished them off!Mardi Gras is of course followed by Mercredi des Cendres (Ash Wednesday) and the beginning of Careme (Lent). The Carnival period culminates on this day with some more parading that we and the girls enjoyed watching, but this time everyone is dressed in black and white, funeral colours here. Whose funeral, I hear you ask... it is in fact the funeral of poor old Vaval, the King of the Carnival; a Guy Fawkes type figure, he is carried in front of the parade and then taken off to be burnt somewhere. Until next year!
Only it isn't...for some reason Carnival manages to reappear again for one final day of parading called Mi-Careme which is in mid-March. Perhaps this day won't be affected by the strike.

As for Lent here, we are on a mainly Catholic island so it is taken very seriously by some, with no meat on Wednesdays and Fridays and no amusements (dancing etc) for the particularly dedicated. Interestingly, the evangelical community take no part in Lent whatsoever as they see it purely as a Catholic celebration, so the (Anglo Saxon perhaps) practice of given up chocolate crisps etc for the period is not found on the island. I think I have already given up enough during the strike so I don't think I will choose anything particularly this year!


BF's mum said...

Protestant / evangelical christians in Holland also don't do lent and see carnival as something quite doubtful!(carnival is something celebrated in the mainly nominal Catholic south of the country). The difference in the UK is possibly the Anglican tradition, would you think? It has retained more Catholic traditions than some other protestant churches.

Hevs said...

Took me a moment to work out who it was...can't understand my own secret code!! Anyway lovely to have your comment!
Yes the evangelical folk here have been relieved at the absence of the carnival on its usual scale as it is full of drunkenness and sensuality. The girls are parading around the house right now pretending they are at the carnival! No drunkenness there! In its basic form it is a really nice community event.
I had never thought of Lent being related to the Anglican church but you are surely spot on there.
I find it a really helpful tradition but I prefer taking on something rather than giving up something. We have done Lentern study groups in the past which have been very interesting.