History of Paris Carnival: a medieval tradition still celebrated in the capital

Published by Cécile de Sortiraparis, Rizhlaine de Sortiraparis, Manon de Sortiraparis · Published on January 12th, 2024 at 02:06 p.m.
Colors, music, costumes, food: the Carnaval de Paris is a big party, taking place this year on February 11, 2024. By the way, do you know the history of Carnival?

It's a great popular festival that's an integral part of thehistory of Paris. Carnaval returns on February 11, 2024, to the delight of young and old alike. While you prepare your costume for this new edition, on the theme of the ancient worlds, let us tell you the story of this popular festival, whose origins go back almost a thousand years...

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In the 11th century, the clergy organized the Fête des Fous (or Fête des Innocents) between December 26 and 28. This great masquerade, adapted from the bawdy festivities of Saturnalia, was an opportunity to have fun without worrying about propriety, playing the strangest and most grotesque games possible. In Paris, this festival was most often held on the forecourt of Notre-Dame - and is featured in Victor Hugo's work of the same name. The festival gradually fell into disuse, disappearing in the mid-16th century.

Carnival took its place. This popular festival had a real link with the Church and Christianity, as it was linked to Lent. In the 15th century, artisans were the most important players in Carnival. The procession of the fattened ox is associated with this festival. Carnival was also a festival for entertainers, who paraded in costume, and for the Paris police force.

Depending on the mayor and the political and religious regime, Carnival is sometimes banned from the city, because of the disruption it can cause. When the First World War broke out, the festival was simply cancelled. It was not revived until the early 1990s.

In 1998, a popular and associative movement revived Carnival as we know it today, with its confetti, music, processions and costumes.

Songs, novels, theater, films, paintings... Carnival is an important event, a popular celebration that has left its mark over the centuries, in the memories and works of France's greatest artists.

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Practical information

Dates and Opening Time
On February 11th, 2024

× Approximate opening times: to confirm opening times, please contact the establishment.
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