Carnival and Other Christian Festivals
Folk Theology and Folk Performance
304 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 in
Sales Date: November 1, 2003
With a riotous mix of saints and devils, street theater and dancing, and music and fireworks, Christian festivals are some of the most lively and colorful spectacles that occur in Spain and its former European and American possessions. That these folk celebrations, with roots reaching back to medieval times, remain vibrant in the high-tech culture of the twenty-first century strongly suggests that they also provide an indispensable vehicle for expressing hopes, fears, and desires that people can articulate in no other way.
In this book, Max Harris explores and develops principles for understanding the folk theology underlying patronal saints' day festivals, feasts of Corpus Christi, and Carnivals through a series of vivid, first-hand accounts of these festivities throughout Spain and in Puerto Rico, Mexico, Peru, Trinidad, Bolivia, and Belgium. Paying close attention to the signs encoded in folk performances, he finds in these festivals a folk theology of social justice that—however obscured by official rhetoric, by distracting theories of archaic origin, or by the performers' own need to mask their resistance to authority—is often in articulate and complex dialogue with the power structures that surround it. This discovery sheds important new light on the meanings of religious festivals celebrated from Belgium to Peru and on the sophisticated theatrical performances they embody.
Dr. Harris has preempted a field almost unto himself: the study of contemporary festivals that have their origins in tradition, history, and the great religious celebrations of the past. . . . [This book] represents a masterful achievement.~Milla Cozart Riggio, James J. Goodwin Professor of English, Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut
- Part One: Days of Saints and Virgins
- 1. Demons and Dragons (Catalonia)
- 2. Flowers for Saint Tony (Aragon)
- 3. El Mas Chiquito de To' Los Santos (Puerto Rico)
- 4. The Cross-Dressed Virgin on a Tightrope (Mexico)
- 5. A Polka for the Sun and Santiago (Mexico)
- Part Two: Corpus Christi
- 6. Dancing under Friendly Fire (Catalonia)
- 7. A Confraternity of Jews (Castile-La Mancha)
- 8. Saint Sebastian and the Blue-eyed Blacks (Peru)
- Part Three: Carnivals
- 9. A Scattering of Ants (Galicia)
- 10. The Bandit and the Fat Man (Navarre)
- 11. Safe for the Bourgeoisie (Belgium)
- 12. Devils and Decorum (Trinidad)
- 13. The Sins of the Carnival Virgin (Bolivia)
The publication of Carnival and Other Christian Festivals was made possible by the support of the Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long Endowment in Latin American and Latino Art and Culture.