The Carnaval is a colorful Vibrant Celebration in the Dominican Republic lasting the entire month of February culminating on the 26th or the 27th of the month.
This is one holiday in the Republic that is much awaited with Anticipation very much like Christians counting the days ’til Christmas although in a different manner. A big part of the celebration are Parades that convey in part the story of their traditions, with costumes and decorations, and electrifying Upbeat Music. The Carnaval holiday celebration in the Dominican Republic is one of those holidays that bring so much spectacle and fun that should never be missed. It is also one of those holidays that should be participated by every person at least once in his or her lifetime.
If the celebrations were focused mainly on the nation’s capital as most holidays and celebrations are done, it could be exhausting and the visitor may be tempted to have enough after a few days of rambunctious participation. In the Dominican Republic though, while the whole nation participates, each town has traditions particular to the town or locality promoting its own Twists and variations. What results is a cacophony of localized presentation that there are as many Twists to the celebrations of this holiday as there are as many towns in the nation. Little wonder why this is a one-month event.
In many Cultures Around The World, the use of Masks and costumes has been used to symbolize spirits and other spiritual entities long before recorded history. The Natives of the Americas and Africa, in particular, used these symbols either to hide themselves from spiritual entities, to supplicate or to emulate them. That is how it all started.
Then, Natives of the surrounding islands called Tainos practiced festivities (called Arietos) as part of Wedding Celebrations, to commemorate a loved one, to honor the dead, to signify Important Events. But mostly, these celebrations were originally done to appeal to the spirits for a Bountiful harvest and productive planting.
Even then, these celebrations were very colorful as Natives decorate themselves with pigments, tattoos, trinkets, Masks, feathers and whatever is naturally available to them, lending it a festive colorful event instead of the traditional manner of praying to the gods for which it was originally intended. The arrival of Africans to the Island during the height of the slave trade gave the festivities added variety by bringing in and incorporating their own traditions, thereby contributing more fun to the carnaval festivities.
The arrival of the Spanish conquistadores to the Island and its subsequent Christianization added more flavor to the celebration. The Spanish priests then, recognizing that the festivities were a pagan ritual tried Christianizing the event that only made it more colorful with additional vestments, costumes and images and where the Natives of the Islands incorporated Christian beliefs with native traditions.
La Carnaval, as the people of the Dominican Republic calls, is an event that evolved through time, making it more colorful and eventful than today. The original meaning may have been lost to most, but the intent to celebrate life as it happens is still depicted in every movement, music, costume and interaction with everyone, Natives and visitors alike.