Burning Monsieur Carnaval for Mardi Gras in France

In France, Carnival is a big celebration held before the beginning of the Christian fasting season of Lent. French adults and kids who celebrate Carnival will dress up in costumes and have parties. And, as I discussed last week, at the end, they will burn an effigy of Monsieur Carnaval.

Monsieur Carnaval… is responsible for all the wrongdoing people do throughout the year. At Carnival time in France, Monsieur Carnaval is judged for his behavior throughout the preceding year. Usually he’s found guilty and an effigy of him is burned at the Carnival.

While Monsieur Carnaval is burning, people dance in a circle around the fire singing (in French)…

Adieu pauvre Carnaval. Tu t’en vas et moi je reste pour manger la soupe à l’ail.

Here’s an English translation…

Goodbye poor Carnaval. You are leaving, and me, I am staying to eat garlic soup.

The soup is made with garlic, a vegetable, since, once Carnival is over, it’s time for Lent. Traditionally during the fast, meat was not allowed to be eaten.

There’s a similar song in Occitan called Adiu paure Carnaval (Farewell Poor Carnival). Occitan was the language of the Troubadours. It’s still spoken in some areas of Southern France (and some regions in Spain and Italy.) As the effigy burns, Adiu paure Carnaval is sung, speaking of Monsieur Carnival leaving the singer to eat garlic and oil soup.

Here’s Adiu paure Carnaval, in Occitan, with an English translation and an mp3 recording.

MP3 of Adiu paure Carnaval

Adiu paure Carnaval
(Occitan)

Adiu paure, adiu paure,
adiu paure Carnaval
Tu te’n vas e ieu demòri
Adiu paure Carnaval
Tu t’en vas e ieu demòri
Per manjar la sopa a l’alh
Per manjar la sopa a l’òli
Per manjar la sopa a l’alh
Adiu paure, adiu paure,
adiu paure Carnaval

La joinessa fa la fèsta
Per saludar Carnaval
La Maria fa de còcas
Amb la farina de l’ostal

Lo buòu dança, l’ase canta
Lo moton ditz sa leiçon
La galina canta lo Credo
E lo cat ditz lo Pater

Farewell, Poor Carnival
(English)

Farewell, farewell,
Farewell, poor Carnival
You are leaving, and I am staying
Farewell, poor Carnival
You are leaving, and I am staying
To eat garlic soup
To eat oil soup
To eat garlic soup
Farewell, farewell,
Farewell, poor Carnival.

The young ones are having a wild time
To greet Carnival
Mary is baking cakes
With flour from her home.

The ox is dancing, the donkey’s singing
The sheep is saying its lesson
The hen is singing the Credo
And the cat is saying the Pater.

Many thanks to Monique Palomares, of Mama Lisa’s World en français, for teaching me about the tradition of Monsieur Carnival and for translating and singing the song.

Come visit the Mama Lisa’s World Occitan Page for more Occitan Songs.

7 Responses to “Burning Monsieur Carnaval for Mardi Gras in France”

  1. Mardi Gras Beads Says:

    Who would want to eat garlic soup…?

  2. Hugues Says:

    Hello,

    Many people eating garlic around Méditerranée. Personaly i love garlic very much, it’s a good vegetable for health and with a very good taste!

    In reality this song speaks about a tradition. Carnaval is a traditional feast celebrated at the end of winter and (in the past, long time ago) people (poor people) don’t have much to eat. Only garlic and oil (huile d’olives). It’s the poor’s soup (la soupe du pauvre).

    Carnaval is coming too, at the end of the “carême”. It’s a period where people couldn’t eat meat (for religious reasons (catholic)). He’s represented by a giant that will be burned at the end of the feast. People tell Carnaval (it’s someone) to go away with winter, “carême” and all restrictions. For me, it’s the more important occitan’s feast.

    Thanks and CIAO.
    Hugues (Uc in occitan)

  3. Hugues Says:

    Hello,

    Excuse for my english! As you have maybe undestood, i’m french, living in south of France, around Mediterranean sea (sea, garlic and sun!!!).

    CIAO, Hugues.

  4. Lisa Says:

    We can understand your English and we’re glad you’re joining the discussion!

    -Lisa

  5. bob Says:

    yeah just so you all know ummmm i cannot read this song so if you could please translate it to umm lets say english that would be just grand. Thank you So much…

  6. Lisa Says:

    There’s an English translation in the post above!

  7. Mark Folse Says:

    Ah, I will need to find some Garlic Soup tomorrow. Happy Mardi Gras from New Orleans, where we are just getting ready for the Big Day.

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