Carnival (see other spellings and names) is a Western Christian and Greek Orthodox festive season that occurs before the liturgical season of Lent. The main events typically occur during February or early March, during the period historically known as Shrovetide (or Pre-Lent). Carnival typically involves public celebrations, including events such as parades, public street parties and other entertainments, combining some elements of a circus. Elaborate costumes and masks allow people to set aside their everyday individuality and experience a heightened sense of social unity. Participants often indulge in excessive consumption of alcohol, meat, and other foods that will be forgone during upcoming Lent.
Other common features of carnival include mock battles such as food fights; expressions of social satire; mockery of authorities; costumes of the grotesque body that display exaggerated features such as large noses, bellies, mouths, phalli, or elements of animal bodies; abusive language and degrading acts; depictions of disease and gleeful death; and a general reversal of everyday rules and norms.The term Carnival is traditionally used in areas with a large Catholic presence, as well as in Greece. The Philippines, a predominantly Roman Catholic country in Asia, also celebrates Carnival (or Mardi Gras). In historically Evangelical Lutheran countries, the celebration is known as Fastelavn, and in areas with a high concentration of Anglicans (Church of England / U.S. Episcopal Church), Methodists, and other Protestants, pre-Lenten celebrations, along with penitential observances, occur on Shrove Tuesday. In Slavic Eastern Orthodox nations, Maslenitsa is celebrated during the last week before Great Lent. In German-speaking Europe and the Netherlands, the Carnival season traditionally opens on 11/11 (often at 11:11 a.m.). This dates back to celebrations before the Advent season or with harvest celebrations of St. Martin's Day.