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Carnival

rome festivals

Carnival, term for any festive season with processions and masquerades, and particularly for the period preceding Lent. Historically, carnival can be traced back at least to the Dionysian festivals of Athens in the 6th century B.C., when a float dedicated to the god was escorted through the city, and to the Saturnalia of ancient Rome. The word carnival may have been derived from the Latin carnem levare (to put meat aside), a reference to Lenten abstinence. The Christian Church, unable to suppress the traditional pagan festivals, had to adapt and recognize them. Italy, Rome, Venice, and Florence have long been famed for their carnivals. Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, Nice in France, and Cologne in Germany are still noted carnival centers. The festivities traditionally reach their climax on the last night, Mardi Gras (Shrove Tuesday).

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