Fat Tuesday

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Will and Dewey Balfa

edited from http://www.smfernand.com/blog.html:

Happy Mardi Gras! The days of Carnival are upon us in the Western World. The ancient gods, Dionysus and Bacchus, arise again to transfigure us into someone other than who we are every other day, yet whom we have always been in our marrow.
The origin of the word carnival is debated. My American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language states that the Italian word we get it from, carnevale, derives from the Old Italian, carnelevare. Break that word in two, and we have carne and levare, which Google translates from the Italian respectively as flesh and remove


My dictionary also links levare to the infinitive to raise—seemingly apparent to me, what with lever, elevate, levitate, leavenlevity; moreover, the dictionary’s  Indo-European lexicon ties lever squarely to the root-word legwh: “Light, having little weight.” Notably, the Indo-European reference does not define legwh as
remove. When I plug in levare as a Latin word, Google Translate renders it as lift. Thus it seems to me that carnival has  to do with “elevating flesh,” since Latin predates Italian.

   A hundred countries and a thousand cities each have their own version of carnival. It is traditionally celebrated on the day before the Lenten Fast begins, forty days before Easter (minus Sundays with Catholics), in emulation of Jesus’ forty-day fast—also perhaps of Elijah’s and Moses’ forty days upon a mountain and Noah’s forty days and forty nights of rain, what with forty being a Biblical holy-number.


The American version of the festival, Mardi Gras, which translates from the French as “Fat Tuesday,” occurs today, the day before Ash Wednesday.

The Balfa Brothers play “The Mardi Gras Song”:

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