Traditional events pertinent to various cultures may be significant for the analysis, as they may tell a lot about the country. This paper explores three cultural events that share many similarities, although being different from each other. The report addresses the origins of the selected traditions, reviews their aspects, and discusses their notable features. Moreover, it compares the events and draws conclusions about the cultures’ standard features and the facts traditions reveal about human beings. The paper concludes that there are significant similarities between the three selected cultures and traditions.
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The primary cultural event selected for this paper is Mardi Gras. It is held in many parts of the world, including Brazil, Canada, and France, but the first American Mardi Gras was hosted in New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1699 (“Mardi Gras 2019,” 2019).
The event is a Christian holiday that is held mainly among Roman Catholic populations. The tradition was initially born to celebrate fertility and spring. Notably, currently, Louisiana is the only state in the U.S. where Mardi Gras is an official holiday (“Mardi Gras 2019,” 2019). I have not attended the event in person yet, but I have watched many videos of the celebrations and read articles about them online.
Mardi Gras is a holiday of colors, music, and floats; people were dressed in bright and sparkling costumes. Many participants of the celebration were wearing green, purple, and gold colors. Some costumes were unusual and bizarre; there were people dressed as clowns and wearing heavy makeup. There were statues of cows in the streets, drumming jesters, and individuals in substantial golden masks. Many participants were dressed as fairy-tale creatures or wore much jewelry.
The most outstanding part of the event was its colorfulness. It seemed that people did not have any rules regarding what costumes they had to wear and enjoyed themselves being the characters they wanted to be.
As Mardi Gras is celebrated in many cultures and does not clearly depict only one of them, it is possible to say that it does not provide information about a particular culture. However, Mardi Gras was notable for me from the very beginning, as it was one of the most colorful carnivals I had watched. I have learned a lot about the event through research because there are many pieces of important information available online. The origins of the tradition can be found in medieval Europe; the celebration was passed from Venice and Rome to the French House of the Bourbons in the 17th century (“Mardi Gras history,” 2019).
It was notable to me that Mardi Gras cannot be considered an event of one particular culture, as America is only one of several countries hosting it regularly. However, it was surprising to me that such an event is so strongly related to Christianity. The reason for it is that Mardi Gras is celebrated in many cultures that are different from each other, and it is notable that they all are connected through such an event and their religion.
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It is possible to say that there has been outside influence on Mardi Gras. For instance, the event celebrated today is not the same as the Mardi Gras of the 18th century. In the early 1740s, Mardi Gras was celebrated by elegant balls, whereas today, people wear bright costumes to it, and it looks like a carnival, not a ball. Moreover, today, the event is associated with extensive celebrations, while in the 19th century, it was only celebrated by a group of students who danced in the streets of New Orleans (“Mardi Gras 2019,” 2019). Thus, Mardi Gras can now be considered more significant on the national and global scale than it was centuries ago.
J’ouvert and the Rio Samba Parade
The two other cultural events I have chosen are the Rio samba parade held to celebrate the Rio Carnival and J’ouvert. The first event is held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and the second one is celebrated in Tobago and Port of Spain, Trinidad. The Rio samba parade is one of the most notable events of the Rio Carnival. Initially, the carnival was a food festival; its purpose was to signal the start of Lent, a 40-day abstinence period (“An in-depth look at the carnival history,” n.d.).
Later, samba became one of its essential parts due to the influence of Africa and slave trading. Today, the samba parade in Rio is similar to Mardi Gras, as it can also be characterized by vivid colors, costumes, and the energy of celebration. One of the significant differences between the samba parade and Mardi Gras is that the former has a particular theme each year, and all the dances are presented by professional samba schools. It is possible to consider the Rio samba parade a competition between these schools; it is well-organized, unlike street parties of Mardi Gras.
J’ouvert is an event that marks the beginning of a two-day carnival in Trinidad and Tobago. It was first introduced by French settlers at the time of slavery, as enslaved individuals were banned from balls and had to invent their own carnivals. During J’ouvert, people jump and dance in the streets and are covered in oil, paints, or mud (“J’ouvert celebrations,” 2019). The reason for it is that the people who invented the carnival did not want to be recognized. The event is similar to Mardi Gras because it is also colorful, with many people going to the streets to celebrate it. However, it is slightly different because it is not associated with any religion, and participants do not wear costumes.
Analysis and Conclusion
There is evidence of cultural influence between the selected cultures; for instance, both Mardi Gras and J’ouvert are celebrated in French-speaking countries along with other ones. Moreover, all of the three events involve dancing and colorful decorations or costumes. The cultures share the desire to celebrate the issues that are important to them through dancing and dressing in colorful costumes. It is evident that the participants of the three events all over the world feel the need to gather and pay respect to their traditions.
I believe that cultures around the globe practice similar circumstances because they all feel the need to celebrate the issues that are significant to them, such as fertility or the ability to be united. This fact indicates that although cultures may be highly different from each other, the nature of human beings is the same for everyone, and people of various cultural backgrounds may have similar needs. For humans, the desire to celebrate significant causes together with others seems natural regardless of their beliefs and culture.
An in-depth look at the carnival history. (n.d.). Web.
J’ouvert celebrations. (2019). Web.
Mardi Gras history. (2019). Web.
Mardi Gras 2019. (2019). Web.