The Carnival Season is a holiday period during the two weeks before the traditional Christian fast of Lent. The word has a Latin origin and literally means "to remove the meat" or "stop eating meat". But carnival and the carnivalesque are not limited to this period of the year; it refers to the varied popular festive life of the Middle-Age and the Renaissance . Besides carnivals proper, they were plenty of other feasts (for instance the feast of the fools, or the feast of the ass), and the carnival atmosphere also pervaded some agricultural festivities. If today carnival festivities have lost some of their importance, they and the comic spectacles and rituals connected with them had a very important place in the life of medieval men. Carnival and carnivalesque are connected with folk culture and folk humour, and everyone in the community would get involved. They existed in all the countries of medieval Europe. Large medieval cities devoted an average of three months a year to theses festivities. All these forms of ritual were based on laughter, on the comic and the grotesque. They were strongly separated from the official sphere, ( ) sharply distinct from the serious, official, ecclesiastical, feudal, and political cult forms and ceremonial .
[...] This suspension of distinction and barriers among men leads to the establishment of a real new type of communication, impossible in everyday life. in the town square, a special form of free and familiar contact reigned among people who were usually divided by the barriers of caste, property, profession and age”. This leads to a new atmosphere of fraternisation and to a utopian realm of community. The “grotesque important element of the different “carnivalesque” forms, also emphasises equality between men. [...]
[...] Secondly, its openness is also a way of representing the regeneration. All the orifices are open (nose, mouth, genital parts, anus, etc) and through the rejections of its body wastes, it becomes clean and there appears a new world. Thus, for Bakhtin, carnival and the “carnivalesque” have great effects on the participants and on the larger society in which the festivities take place. This includes the spread of anti-authoritarianism values, freedom from the imposed temporal and spiritual domination, the abolition of the past established order and the creation of a new world. [...]
[...] Large medieval cities devoted an average of three months a year to theses festivities. All these forms of ritual were based on laughter, on the comic and the grotesque. They were strongly separated from the official sphere, ) sharply distinct from the serious, official, ecclesiastical, feudal, and political cult forms and ceremonial”. Nevertheless, this separation was not evident: at the early stages of preclass and prepolitical social order, the serious and the comic aspects were equally official. With the consolidated state and class structure, all the comic forms were transferred to a nonofficial level. [...]
[...] So in a way, they threaten society with the perpetuation of the established order. In Rabelais and his world, he argues that it is only in literature that popular festive forms can achieve the “self awareness” necessary for effective protest. Thus, according to him, to have a concrete effect, the excluded and the carnivalesque must be brought in the official realm through a text. We could quote, for instance, Rabelais' work, on which Bakhtin focuses, but also Dante, Cervantes, and a lot of others writers. [...]
[...] Like that, carnival is a way of resisting to the temporal power. During these festivities, the official legal norms and prohibitions are not valid anymore. Thus, the authority and supremacy of the rulers is temporarily denied. The official social hierarchy is ignored and the privileges disappear. The rank, especially evident during the official feasts, is completely absent at the carnival festivities. The spiritual power is also concerned: carnival was also a means for medieval people to free themselves from the austerity of the Church. [...]
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