Malta Diary Carnival during Lent – Heresy!
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Last weekend we celebrated our Carnival – but, hang on – surely it was the weekend before because by the last weekend, Lent was already underway and holding a Carnival during Lent is sheer heresy!
The whole point of Carnival, since mediaeval times and the days of the Knights in Malta, was a “let your hair down weekend” before the start of Lent and NOT to extend beyond 12 midnight on the following Shrove Tuesday because at midnight plus one second, Lent starts with 40 days of fasting, abstinence and absolute sobriety.
Well, that held good for hundreds of years, but this is 2018 and time and tide wait for no man, nowadays adapting to circumstances and needs rather than ritual.
The whole point of Carnival since its inception was a show of extravagance and a chance to poke tongue-in-cheek against the ruling authorities – with immunity and impunity, and that is what always happened in the past.
However, this time round, the proper Carnival weekend – that is the weekend before the last one – was a complete stinker. A Friday, Saturday and Sunday swamped with torrential rains and Force 6 and 7 winds and everything had to be kept under wraps. The bad weather abated slightly on Monday but returned with gusto on Tuesday.
The whole event was a non-starter and a heartbreaker.
The effect on the organisers, participants and thousands of attendees – particularly children, was devastating. A whole year’s hard work seemed destined to go down the drain – literally, involving much expense. Creating and making floats and some Carnival costumes run into considerable expenses as a matter of pride and honour and in order to compete for the prizes.
This was certainly a case in line with the Maltese saying that man makes proposals but ultimately it is God who decides!
Now, had all this happened some years back, it would have been done and dusted. Yes, great preparations had been made, yes there was much expectancy but the weather had determined otherwise and that was that – bad luck. All was as God willed.
The very thought of extending the Carnival period into Lent was pure heresy, a matter of Mortal Sin, hellfire and brimstone.
However, this is 2018 and times have changed and people have changed. The organisers appealed to the Government to extend the event to the next weekend although Lent will have started, and the Government agreed.
The rest is history and a hitherto unthinkable precedent has been created.
There were further complications for the religious zealots because St Valentine’s Day on 14th February 2018 also happened to be the first day of Lent, Ash Wednesday.
Oh well, time and tide wait for no man.
A further note of development, over the years most – if not all – Carnival events, particularly external events, were restricted to Valletta. This has been changing gradually with growing popularity for other towns and villages to have their own external events.
Malta’s sister island Gozo this year enjoyed a bonanza and set the trend for the years to come with a great number of events and celebrations. This included the much deliberated Nadur Carnival and its attractions of weird, bizarre and macabre characters who flock to attend!
“Step by step – all will have their turn”
The progression of time and events applies to all. My turn today – whether good luck, bad luck, illness, death – but yours may follow tomorrow because we are all in line and all will have their turn.