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With the Lenten season looming, these preceding weeks tradiitonaly give way to frantic preparations for the reign of the Merry Monarch in many cities across the world. From European cities such as Cologne and Venice, to Caribbean cities, notably Rio de Janeiro and Port of Spain, to cities of the American South in New Orleans, Louisiana and Mississippi, Carnival celebrations take pride of place as costumes and music are created to participate in the masquerade, or as they say in Trinidad and Tobago, “play mas”.
The colorful celebrations have long historical and cultural meaning for the many cities and communities where Carnival celebrations take place. While those histories may differ materially, what they share in common is that quality of subverting the status quo, of challenging the power of Church and state, albeit with tacit agreement, during those days when the Merry Monarch reigns supreme. It is a period, according to the Russian theorist Mikhail Bakhtin, when “the exterior freedom … was inseparable from their inner freedom”; a period too when socio-economic barriers were temporarily dissolved as celebrations procceed among the united and powerful collective of “the people”. Though the dissolution of socio-economic status is a much more complicated matter in contemporary Carnival celebrations, the temporary freedoms that it allows still holds true.
These weeks before the Carnival celebrations have stirred some nostalgia and so Atypical Musings shares some memories of Trinidad Carnival celebrations in 2015 below. As soon as we receive photos of this year’s celebrations from our photographers at Carnival celebrations in Trinidad and Tobago, we will also share those.
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