Photographer's Note

Carnaval (or carnival in English) originated in Italy with the tradition of holding a wild costume festival just before the first day of Lent — carnevale means “to put away the meat” (many people gave up meat for Lent)

The celebration spread from Italy via Spain and to the Americas with the Spanish and Portuguese colonists in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Carnival has some of its deepest roots in Cuba

Cuba’s first carnivals took place in the homes of sugar and tobacco plantation owners. But it was the advent of large numbers of west Africans, brought over in huge numbers to work the sugar fields in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, which changed carnival in Cuba

Although most of the Africans brought to Cuba were slaves and often lived in terrible conditions, the island was unusual in that a significant number of Afro-Cubans in the late eighteenth century had been freed and up to that point they were largely treated as equals

As a result, the African tradition of masked and costumed parades moving in circles through villages steadily became a central part of the annual carnival events

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Additional Photos by Elias Castillo (manatee) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 905 W: 5 N: 1376] (4668)
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