Many of us have heard about Carnaval, but where does the word Carnaval actually come from, and what is it all about?

The word Carnaval comes from a Latin word: Carnem-levare, which means to abandon meat. In the medieval times, it was prohibited to eat meat on Fridays.

Carnaval is a celebration that origins from the ‘cuaresma cristiana’ (the period in which the Cristians do not eat meat), which dates variate between February and March each year. This celebration is characterized by elements such as: parades, costumes and parties on the street. The biggest characteristic of this celebration is that it gets crazy and a bit out of control.

The origin of this celebration most likely comes from the Pagan celebrations. The Pagans celebrated to honor Baco, the god of the wine, or held celebrations that were held in honor of the Egyptian Taurus Apis. Following certain historians, the origins of this celebration go back to the ancient Sumerian or Egyptian times, more than 5000 years ago, whom held celebrations similar to those of the Roman Empire. Since then, the tradition expanded throughout Europe, taking it all the way to the Americas by the Spanish and Portuguese sailors in the 16thcentury.

So, how do they celebrate now? The Carnaval parties are celebrated throughout Ecuador, with parades, cars filled with flowers, fruits and pretty women. People throw water balloons, foam and in some places even eggs and olive oil (anything you can find in a kitchen really). Don’t get scared! This is mostly between the school kids, and anything besides foam is (officially) prohibited. You will also find dances, games and all kinds of fun activities, lots of food and a lot of drinks! This all is officially celebrated to prepare the body for the no meat period.

Recommended places to celebrate/see Carnaval:

  • Baños
  • Beach destinations (Mompiche, Canoa, Manta, Guayaquil and Puerto Lopez)
  • Riobamba
  • Cuenca

 

Carnaval in Manta

 

For more information visit this website (Spanish)

 

Written by: Kyra Boogert