But what exactly IS Carnival?? According to everyone's favorite encyclopedia, "Carnival is a festive season which occurs immediately before Lent...(It) typically involves a public celebration or parade combining some elements of a circus, mask and public street party." Ok, that is a super-simple and super-basic definition. And in some places that may suffice. However, in Brazil it does not! You can find a more detailed description of this country's Carnival by clicking here. It is quite involved, to say the least.
To most people who live in, I'll call it, a non-Carnival country or region, that word mainly conjures up visions of masks, costumes and confetti (think Mardi-Gras). But here it is much more than that-perhaps the same difference between American soccer and Brazilian soccer!
To add to this, they end the celebration on Ash Wednesday when they crowd the Catholic churches to repent of all the sins which they committed during the previous days. For sure, all of those who pula Carnaval don't go and confess and repent. And of those who do go, most do it out of ritual and tradition, which leaves their hearts and lives the same as they were before.
Happily, many of our church young people have camps available to them and we were encouraged to see 7 go from our little Victory Baptist Church. They worked hard in the weeks beforehand, trying to earn enough money to be able to go...which they did! They returned with beaming faces, happy voices and encouraging testimonies of the blessings during the 4 days of camp.