Do you know about the origins of Carnival in Las Palmas? Have you ever been to the parade or the different galas? Have you seen how people get dressed up, enjoy the music, floats and atmosphere during Carnival? Do you know where it all comes from?
Carnival as we know it today is a popular season of feasting and fancy dress street parties, the beginnings of which stretch as far back as 5000 years to Egypt and was celebrated throughout the Roman empire during the end of the lean winter months, when food was traditionally harder to get hold of. The Venitians celebrated Carnival in legendary opulence and that tradition was brought to Gran Canaria by wealthy Genoese merchants who, following the Castilian conquest, arrived on the island to take advantage of fertile lands for the production of high value crops like sugar cane, which helped fund the conquest of this and the other Canary Islands, and later the New World. Carnival was first celebrated in the capital’s old quarter, Vegueta, what was then ‘El Real de Las Palmas’, Spain’s first Atlantic Colony.
Did you know that Genoa and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria are twin cities and are therefore still are very much linked? Watch this video to find out more about the Origins of Carnival in the city of Las Palmas:
Many wealthy Genoese merchants had established themselves in Andalusia, where they formed one of the largest foreign communities, utilising their maritime and trade links with the wealthy Republic of Genoa. They settled mainly in Cadiz and Seville from where they controlled sea traffic and commerce between the Mediterranean and the Atlantic ocean. This gave them primary access to the newly conquered territories like The Canary Islands in search of trading opportunities in commodities such as ink, spices and slaves.
Therefore, these Genoese merchants were the ones responsible for bringing Carnival to the Canary Islands. And while many believe that our Carnival was imported from Latin America due to their huge numbers, amazing organization, and incredible rhythms, the fact is that from a historical standpoint it is the opposite. When Columbus set sail from the south of Spain to discover the new world it was 1492, and the island had already been conquered by the Spaniards for over 9 years.
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