Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Carnival: Halloween and Mardi Gras combined!

Just before I left for London, Spain celebrated one of its most known (and most loved) holidays: Carnival! Like most holidays here, the origins of this extravagant party are Catholic. Prior to the 40 days of lent, devoted to abstinence from lavish foods in memory of the 40 days Jesus fasted in the woods before Easter, people needed to use up these food stores, so why not make a party of it? I have also heard rumors of pagan heritage, and of Roman tradition celebrating Dionysus, the god of wine--but why does Spain celebrate carnival today? Because it's Spanish! The pagans, the Romans, and lent are memories of the past, but the coalescent party rocks on!

At school, all of my students told me "You have to go to Hío for Carnaval!" Different places have different reputations for their atmosphere during Carnival, and for the people of Cangas, Hío is where the party's at. O entroido, in Galego, is a tradition of organized chaos in Hío. Each year specific duties are delegated to elected townspeople to make the carnival magic happen. Neighbors come together to build elaborate wreaths and arrange the food, the music, and the accommodations. Carnival in Hío is a time-honored Galician tradition, which comes with a set of guidelines for the contemporary generations!

Some people from Castilla la Mancha told me that they were impressed with the dedication to Carnival here in Galicia. In Castilla or in Madrid, they said, people put on a costume and go to a party. In Galicia, people wake up, have their morning coffee, put on their costume, and start their day! My experience here definitely lived up to this description. On Carnival Sunday I hiked to an overlook where I could hear the unanimous wave of cheers sweep the town as the party began. When I hiked back to the city, the traditional Sunday walking was under way, but on a whole new level with costumes!

Unfortunately, I left for London before I could partake in the main Hío celebration (London! So, not that unfortunately!), but we still partied it up at the Instituto! The last two class periods on Friday were fully dedicated to carnival schenanigans, complete with costumes and comida! I joined some other profes as zombies and we joined the show with a playful chanted about the crisis. Then we munched on orejas (literally, "ears,"--the traditional sugary fried dough of Carnival), while watching the students show off their creativity. Their costumes were unique, but I doubt that many of them would pass your standard American dress code! What do you think?

Does one of these zombies look familiar?

Serving up some delicious orejas!

Some students rock out!

The fellowship of the ring, complete with a Galician bagpipe!

...and a rather curious take on the eye of Sauron!

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