Today In Fact, 2 January

A Carnival Day. In the 1980’s I did community work on the Cape Flats and one of the more successful projects was the clown group I started in Manneberg. Hundreds of children, supported by parents and teachers attended sessions where they learned the art of clowning, while Apartheid police and army patrolled the streets outside.

What I had tapped into was the powerful cultural history of the Kaapse Klopse, a minstrel and clown festival that traditionally takes place every year on this day in Cape Town. Considered a festival ritual of renewal and liberation from slavery, many of its songs reflect historical events and the joie-de-vivre of local community life in Cape Town.

In Columbia, a similar festival is held on this day, centred on the town of Riosucio every second year and is known as the carnival of the devil.

In the West Indian islands of Saint Kitts and Nevis, today is Carnival Day with music, parades and dancing although it seems to be just an extension of the new year’s celebrations.

In Switzerland, Alsace and Liechtenstein, today is known as Berchtoldstag where local communities host festive dancing and parties.

Carnivals are common in Catholic countries and usually precede Lent, so these festivities fall outside the usual carnival season. I wonder if all this festivity is not just a useful way to extend a holiday? As if in confirmation; Kazakhstan, Macedonia, Mauritius, Montenegro, New Zealand, Romania, Russia and the Ukraine, today simply call today the second day of new year.

– Posted by Douglas Racionzer (