It’s easy to think of February as a dull and dreary month, with the Christmas festivities a distant memory and the full force of winter all too familiar. However, a spin of a desktop globe will show us just how many festivals around the world there are in February, with dozens of different traditions to be celebrated.
If there’s one month to get out a costume, slap on some face paint and take to the streets to party, it’s February (if we consider Halloween a holiday rather than a festival…) so get colourful, get creative, and get celebrating some of the incredible festivals around the world with Mankind!
Where: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
When: Friday before Lent until Ash Wednesday
History: Founded 1723 – Portuguese immigrants introduced the tradition of throwing buckets of water, food and mud over each other, which developed over the years.
Who wouldn’t love to be in Rio de Janeiro at this time of year?! Not only is it a good 30 degrees hotter than here in the UK, but the lead up to Lent marks the beginning of the world renowned Rio Carnival. Now this is not just any old carnival, but is a massive communal gathering for locals to come together, play music and dance their way through the streets of Rio. Amongst the many lively festivities taking place are Samba School parades, formed by local neighbours who want to come together to celebrate their common backgrounds, making their way through streets with vibrant floats, crazy costumes and lively dance routines. With balls, street parties and parades to attend, it’s no wonder the festival attracts 2 million tourists and locals per day! Jealous? Us? Not at all…
Where: New Orleans, USA
When: Shrove Tuesday
History: Founded 1699 – celebrated by men to observe Catholic practice
Although the Mardi Gras period is celebrated over around 2 weeks, it’s on the last Tuesday that the fun really starts! Traditional social club parades and upbeat jazz bands make their way from uptown New Orleans down to the cultural French Quarter, where you’ll find locals and tourists alike donning extravagant masquerade masks and reams of colourful beads. These beads are thrown from parade floats and balcony windows for all to catch (not just flashing women, as tradition might suggest!), and are a great souvenir of a festival that promises to be unforgettable!
Where: Germany, Austria & Switzerland
When: Various start dates pre-Lent
Although there are celebrations all across Germany at this time of year, the festivities differ across regions. Known as Karneval in northwest Germany, Fasching in southern German and Austria or Fastnacht in Swabia and Switzerland, the festivals all have one thing in common – they’re lively, colourful and a hell of a lot of fun! At a Fasching festival like in Munich, you’ll find balls, parties and concerts spread throughout a city, with bands and marching parades making their way through the streets. In a city like Cologne, you will have been celebrating Karneval since November (lucky you!), will see all sorts of characters in costumes and will hear special carnival cries. If you dare attend a Fastnacht festival like in Rottweil, you’ll come across some pretty unique costumes of devils, witches and wild animals, claimed to have been traditionally used to drive out the devils of winter (UK… take notes!)
When: Shrove Tuesday
History: Using up rich foods before the 40 day fasting period of Lent
One that we in the UK all know and love – because who needs parades and parties! Having said that, if you’re fortunate enough to live in Olney, Buckinghamshire, then you may well get stuck into the famous pancake race, flipping pancakes in a frying pan over 415 yards to the finish line. In Scarborough they close schools early to indulge in a spot of skipping, whilst in other towns they hold a mob football game to mark the celebration. But whatever the village, town or city, one thing’s for sure – we’re all indulging in a delicious lemon and sugar pancake or two (or three…) whenever Shrove Tuesday comes around!
In honour of some of the festivals around the world (in particular our beloved Pancake Day), this weekend’s playlist is made up of songs with food/drink in the title… dig in!
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