Term used to describe public revelling that includes music, dance or performance. It is characterized mainly by the elaborate costumes that are created specifically for it. In countries where the Roman Catholic tradition is dominant, carnival denotes a period of variable duration that ends at midnight before Ash Wednesday, although in some localities the latter day can also be included. In these contexts, therefore, it is a specific calendrical event generally associated with forthcoming Lent. It is often referred to with the French Mardi Gras, which properly applies to only Shrove Tuesday. The term has, however, become used more generally; it may entail demonstrating, occasionally with explicit, if satirical, political overtones. It also denotes indoor partying and feasting of the kind arranged by community organizations or private individuals. The English equivalent of carnival as an annual event, Shrovetide, seems to be disappearing with the decline of the activities customarily connected with the period in the popular culture of the British Isles.
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