İmsl2000 - 2010

                  Carneval and Lent



The word "Carneval" is originally "Carne Vale" - directly translated "meat goodby". As early as in the Middle age it developed a tradition concerning common feasts during the days ahead of Lent. Focus was set on all the things one had to abandon during Lent ; much and fat food, a lot of drinking, erotic and love, playing and games.

Colourful, noisy parades and parties became common for these days. Today The Rio de Janeiro Carneval feast and the New York Easter Parade are probably the most famouse ones. But it was - and still is in sentral Europe - a tradition for huge Easter parades including bands, horses and carriages decorated with lots of colourful ribbons - and parties during the nights - in the time ahead of Lent.

Joyful teams went to visit friends and family - dressed in disguise. And the pre-Lent time was ended with huge parties. With just few changes, these traditions live on in most of Europe. In Norway the Carneval traditions never really got much response. It's just for the last decades Carneval has become popular in Norway - and then of course just indoors !

For one reason or another the only tradition rooted in Norway is whipping with small knots. This fenomen has a lot of different explanations of origin and is attached both to the days ahead Lent as well as to Good Friday. (One whipped oneself to remeber the sufferings of Jesus Christ)

But whipping was also a important springtime action in Antiquity as part of fertility rituals.

Still it's very popular to bring into the house small branches, put them in water - and have a "pre-springtime" indoors.

In Norway such branches are now decorated with coloures feathers and sold for humanity purposes.



As well Jews as Muslims have a fasting time as an imposed part of their religion. Amongst the Christians it's more like a self imposed dicipline.

The time of Lent is 40 days ahead of Easter. (Sundays not included). The Catholic church demands everyone to join. Amongst others meat and eggs are not allowed. The Lutheran church isn't quite as strict -but anyway it's a time for modesty and reflections. Earlier on either baptism or weddings were performed during this period.

The last days ahead of Lent had spesific names ;

"Fastelavn" origin from the German word "Fastelabend" - the night before the time of fast. This night was an orgie in fat food, drinking and partying until the strict rules of Lent appeared on Wednesday.

"Blue Monday" - is named after the dark blue cloth that covered the Alter - to symbolise that the priests had startet their periode of fast.

"Fat Tuesday" - was the last day for the people to eat as much as they could manage (or even a bit more..). Todays special "Fast-muffins" are maybe the only item left of the historical "fattening stuff" meals.

"Ash Wendesday" - is the first day of Lent. For several hundred years it was quite common to rub the hair with ash on this day. During Medieval time people went to church to get a cross of ash drawn on their forehead - showing that Lent had startet. In 1639 king Christian IV of Denmark and Norway pledged that it should be preached of the Saviors sufferings every Wednesday during Lent. And it's still the theme for church seremonies during this periode of the year.