Did you know that all these different festivities are all linked to the same day? They all mark the lead-up to the following day, Ash Wednesday. This day is the first day of Lent, a Christian period based on penitence and sacrifice that lasts until Easter. Depending on which country we are referring to, we need to use one name or another because they have some differences.
Carnival is celebrated in many places around the world: The astonishing parades of Rio de Janeiro, the elegant costumes of Venice or the crazy parties of New Orleans have become authentic tourist gems. This celebration has a pagan origin. Before the Christianisation of Europe, there were several festivals in honour of fertility gods, like Bacchus, during the Roman Empire era, the eccentric god of wine and parties. With the Christian church expansion, this celebration became the perfect opportunity to feast and have fun, before the penitence of Lent in the lead-up to Easter.
Mardi Gras, or Shrove Tuesday is the end of this celebration; the last day of feasting, before all the sacrifices and abstention of Lent starts. Mardi Gras is celebrated by partying and enjoying the last day of Carnival while Shrove Tuesday or Pancake Day is more focused on feasting and eating in family homes. Every country, depending on its cultural and religious background, celebrates it one way or another, but when translating these terms, it is essential to know the specific culture and history of the target audience.
Understanding the customs of the relevant country, as well as its language is a must when localising.
Mission Translate appreciates how cultural understanding impacts localisation, so works with native professionals to support our work in this area.
By Encarna Nunez