The accent in the title and the capitalisation below shows where the stress falls, and the phrase should be pronounced:
estooo-WEH carr-na-VA where the two stressed syllables should have an abrupt bite to them and a slight aspiration at the end.
"Yes, fine." you say, "But why are you telling me this?"
I shall begin. Practising Christians are now in Lent and as we all know, Lent is a time of sacrifice when people give up luxuries to mark JC's time of fasting in the desert. Before Lent in times past people would blow out on the luxuries in the larder so as not to let them go to waste. The result of this is the English Shrove Tuesday (from the verb to shrive - to cleanse of sins) when we all enjoy pancakes while the French enjoy a bonne bouffe during Mardi Gras - or Fat Tuesday. Whether the fat part refers to using up this cooking material or to the gargantuan meals eaten there I do not know - je ne sais pas, mes amis. And, of course, in the Mediterranean/Latino countries we have Carnival (Spanish Carnaval) where people took the chance to scarf down meat (Latin: carnis) before fasting.
I am going to restrict myself to Spain where any excuse for a fiesta is a good excuse. Slowly this flesh-easting beano turned into a popular street festival and it was a time of licence. People released steam and it became a time of non-religious partying and parades where anything went and the de facto powers were mocked. Nowadays, the most famous Spanish carnivals are those of Cadiz, Spain's most captivating city, and in the Canaries whose festivities have more in common with those of the Americas and which rely more heavily on spectacle than on wit and inventiveness. Such was the biting wit and comment displayed in the Cadiz carnivals that they were banned during Franco's dictatorship and only began again after his death.
Seville does not really celebrate the Carnival - it waits until April, just after Easter and then explodes into Feria. This is a Bacchanalian week of drinking, Flamenco and loud music distortedly blaring from low-quality loudspeakers while little old men stuff twists of paper napkins into their ears to protect them from the constant tiddly-tiddly-piddly-piddly-pom of sevillanas music. Sevillian women dress in trajes de gitana and add colour and loud conversation to the whole city. If you live in Seville, this is a great time to escape and visit other cities as the world and his wife seems to be gyrating in the Feria - either due to the music or a surfeit of Manzanilla, Fino, or indeed the deceptively refreshing rebujito - a bottle of sherry, plus a litre of 7-up and plenty of ice.
I am usually hyper-critical of the magical thinking so typical of Seville. What Sevillians perceive with their five senses often has little to do with their inner reality. Seville is a place where a strongly-held misconception is oft at odds with physical reality. The children's Carnival celebrations however are the positive side of Sevillian magical thinking. As Ford states in his excellent Gatherings from Spain (1846) "The frugal, temperate, and easily-pleased Spaniard enters with schoolboy heart and soul into the reality of any holiday, which being joy sufficient of itself lacks no artificial enhancement".
|Carnival Parade à la Oliver|
After about ten minutes the shouting, smiling snake would return to the playschool and Carnival would be over for another year, but for those ten minutes we were all on holiday. Estoé Carnavá, at least in Seville - or at least in my memory.