Carnival is most commonly associated with the New Orleans’ celebration of Mardi Gras, but did you know that Puerto Rico has its own Carnival? A two-hour drive from Rincon, the city of Ponce hosts its own celebration of Carnival, known as Carnaval Ponceño. The Puerto Rican celebration of Carnival is one with deep Spanish, Taino and African roots and is deeply tied to the history of Puerto Rico.
What is Carnival?
Carnival, or Carnaval as it is spelled in the Spanish-speaking world, is a traditional festival proceeding the Christian season of Lent. Because Lent is historically a time of fasting, Carnival began as a time of feasting, drinking and merriment the week before Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent. Generally, Carnival falls at the end of February or the beginning of March. In Puerto Rico, and throughout the Western world, Carnival has merged with African and Caribbean traditions to become the celebration we know it as today.
Carnival in Puerto Rico
The city of Ponce has celebrated Carnival for at least 164 years, evolving and adapting to an annual week-long celebration with parades, masquerades, and the Burial of the Sardine (a mock funeral symbolic of the end of the Carnival). After the parades, there is plenty of live music throughout the city, making a trip to Ponce well worth it. Also part of the Carnival celebration is the crowning of the Carnival queen and princesses, as well as the Parade of the Carnival’s King (Rey Momo), according to Discovering Puerto Rico. Much like Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Carnaval Ponceño is known for the elaborate, colorful masks worn by celebrants.
The vejigante is the most remarkable character of Carnaval Ponceño. According to the Second Face Mask Museum, the vejigante is a demonic character portrayed with a mask of horns and a costume with bat-like wings. The vejigante was created in 17th century Spain to remind people of their sin during the Carnival season and frighten them back into church attendance. In Puerto Rico, the vejigante has morphed with African and Caribbean traditions to become the colorful and artistic costume we know today. The word, vejigante, is a combination of the Spanish words for bladder (vejiga) and giant (gigante), which comes from the tradition of the vejigantes hitting parade bystanders with an inflated animal bladder, similar to a balloon.
Book Your Stay at Maria’s
When you book your stay with Maria’s, you can make the most of your stay in Puerto Rico during Carnival. The short drive to Ponce allows for the chance to celebrate in the noise and excitement of Carnival, while the peace and quiet at Maria’s in Rincon has the rest and relaxation you want in your Puerto Rican vacation.
When you’re ready to stay with us, booking is done through Twin Palms, Maria’s rental and onsite management. Please visit our booking page on this website to view the availability of Maria’s and fill out our convenient contact form. If you have any additional questions regarding Maria’s, you may call Elizabeth at 787-685-6648 (español: Cristina at 787-449-3673).