January 27, 2009

Aria the Natural -- Carnival

Carnival AKA Mardi Gras AKA Fasching AKA lots of other names from different places around the world is celebrated on Fat Tuesday, which happens just before Ash Wednesday, which is the first day of Lent.

Lent is a period of 40 days leading up to Easter, which is always a Sunday, and is a period of fasting, penitence, and self-denial for devout Christians which corresponds to the 40 days that scripture says Jesus spent in the desert.

Easter is set to be "the first Sunday after the first full moon on or after the vernal equinox". And because it is a religious observation, it happens every terran year.

It simply wouldn't make any sense to have Easter once per Aqua year, on a date determined by the astronomy of Aqua. It wouldn't make religious sense, in particular. So if there is any justice, Carnival (which is a fixed interval before Easter) should happen twice per Aqua year.

But it probably doesn't. They celebrate Christmas only once per Aqua year, and that is also a religious observation intimately tied to terran astronomy.

To the Japanese, Christmas is a big deal, but it's entirely a secular event. Few Japanese are Christian. Of course, even for Americans many who celebrate Christmas are not Christian or at least not particularly devout, and many if not most of the modern trappings of the Christmas holiday have roots in European paganism, including Druidism. Even the date of celebration is fundamentally pagan. No one really has any idea what day of the year Jesus was born. The early Christians during the days of Roman persecution set their celebration of Christmas to coincide with a Roman mid-winter celebration so that they wouldn't stand out. (That's why Christmas is within a few days of the solstice.)

And I would venture to say that the majority of people who celebrate Mardi Gras in New Orleans, or Carnival in Rio or Venice, don't in turn celebrate Easter, and don't practice self-denial during Lent. Carnival is also a largely secular event.

Even so, for something as much fun as Carnival, and as lucrative to a tourist destination like Neo-Venezia, wouldn't you think that whatever government authority has jurisdiction over such things would recognize the benefit of celebrating Carnival twice per Aqua year instead of only once?

And if you say, "It would be strange to celebrate Carnival when it was hot!" then tell that to the people of Rio. They seem to manage it.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Engineer's Disease at 06:28 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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