Spring Renewal Rites
Researchers have suggested that the custom developed from Roman festivals like the Lupercalla. It’s filled with merrymaking and drinking, but there is a reason for it. The rites symbolize the annual cycle of the seasons. The Dionysian spring rites signify rebirth following the death experienced in winter.
When this ritual began is uncertain. It’s believed to be much older than Rome. In fact it may have started as soon as man recognized the cycle of the seasons.
According to this theory, the rites and feasts are the basis for events like Mardi Gras. So while people may no longer realize it, the reason why carnival is celebrated has to do with the observance of the seasons. Not only does it symbolize changing weather, it also denotes the cycle of life and death.
To Boost the Economy
It can’t be denied that money plays a role too. Cities where these festivals take place promote it heavily. The reason is simple. The event draws in tourists and this translates to revenue for the city. It also helps boost and advertise the other tourist sites in the country.
During this period, tourists come to the city to witness the event. Along the way they stay at hotels, buy souvenirs etc. The money they spend doesn’t just go to the government. It also helps the locals whose livelihood depends on tourism. The reason why carnival is celebrated has to do with earning a living as it is about having fun.
To Enjoy Life
For the revelers and participants, it’s all about forgetting their worries for a while. A lot of those who participate in Mardi Gras come from poor families. For them, it’s a great opportunity to let their troubles go for a while and just have a good time.
Another reason people look forward to it is that some of the rules imposed by society are temporarily taken down. The etiquette concerning classes, gender and decorum are laid down for a while. As anyone who’s participated will tell you, the experience is like becoming one with the people. If you ask why carnival is celebrated, the most common answer you’ll get is that folks just want to have fun.
To Promote National Culture
The floats, parades and dresses also uphold a city’s culture. Today, anyone who mentions Mardi Gras will think of New Orleans or Rio de Janeiro. It brings images of good times. It becomes a part of the city’s lifeblood itself. In the end it boosts the image of a city. This of course, will help the country in many ways.
Mardi Gras is also called Fat Tuesday, denoting its religious undertones. Sometime during the Middle Ages the Church declared that it would be the last day before the beginning of Lent. Although it doesn’t look like it, the event is very much connected with the Lenten period.
In the end though, it probably doesn’t matter why carnival is celebrated. For most people it’s the experience that counts, not the whys.