By Karlyne Killebrew
**Image by Rob Sifford/The Current. Masked students enjoying Karneval
A miniature version of the festival of all festivals paid a visit to the University of Missouri-St. Louis campus, February 17. From 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. students were able to experience the delicious treats of Mardi Gras and learn about other cultures that celebrate Karneval in the Pilot House, free of charge. The room was comfortably filled with the buzz of satisfied bellies and chatter filling everyone’s ears.
The spread featured a variety gumbo that had shrimp, sausage, and black eyed peas in it among other things. There were beignets, cinnamon swirls dusted with Mardi Gras colored sprinkles, dirty rice combos, and something special for the more adventurous— crawfish cornbread. Although the layout appeared to be composed of all the popularized staples of the creole palette, the celebration took things a step further by representing the many other ethnicities and countries that celebrate this holiday. Flags were posted around the walls denoting some of the lesser known participants of the Karneval time festivities.
Kathy Shmurman, senior, liberal studies, said, “It’s very interesting and informing, all the facts they have about Karneval in different countries. Some of them I’ve heard about in history classes and from international clubs and stuff that I’ve been in. But some of them you don’t hear about, for example, the Karneval in France and Germany. It’s cool to see additional countries that you normally wouldn’t hear about celebrating Karneval.”
The event was hosted by Sigma Tau Delta, the International English Honors Society, in collaboration with the German Student Association. However, the Anthropology Students Association and the Hispanic-Latino Students Association (HISLA) helped bring the event to life.
One could see the American Mardi Gras mainstays like beads and masks lined up on the stage, but with such a diverse crowd of creators, participators, and decorations, one could only ask exactly whose culture was being celebrated. Even the spelling of Carnival was different. In short, a bit of everybody’s was represented.
The spelling of the event’s title is German. However, the tradition still marks the same cause wherever it occurs, a celebration before beginning the Lenten season.
However, different from the American tradition of beads, in areas like France, people throw candy from the parades. Americans generally get an image of a lady in a sequined bikini and feathers during a Caribbean or Brazilian parade filled with dancing and heavy drums. While that may be a spot on image of some countries’ Carnival style, in a German Karneval parade, performers travel down the street in masks, performing miraculous jumps with the assistance of poles according to Michael Adams’ article on the travel section of the blog Stars and Stripes. The jumpers are called “Federahannes” and their performance overall, “Narrensprung,” which translates to “Fools Jump.” Despite how different the entertainment may be, the parade seems to be a constant among everyone.
Although the student organizations could not bring actual performers from any of the countries to host their own parade, they did bring knowledge of our planetary neighbors and the flavor of Louisiana to UMSL.
(c) The Current 2015