Carnaval de Negros y Blancos


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Inscribed in 2009 (4.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

© 2008 Universidad de Nariño - Corpocarnaval - Alcaldia de Pasto - Ministerio de Cultura de Colombia

Arising out of native Andean and Hispanic traditions, the Carnaval de negros y blancos (Black and White Carnival) in San Juan de Pasto in south-western Colombia is a great celebration lasting from 28 December to 6 January each year. The celebrations begin on the 28th with the Carnival of Water − the throwing of water in homes and on the streets to initiate a festive mood. On New Year’s Eve, the Old Year’s parade takes place, with marchers carrying satirical figures representing celebrities and current events, and culminating in a ritual burning of the passing year. The main days of the carnival are the last two, when people of all ethnicities don black cosmetics on the first day, then white talcum on the next to symbolize equality and integrate all citizens through a celebration of ethnic and cultural difference. The Black and White Carnival is a period of intense communion, when private homes become collective workshops for the display and transmission of carnival arts and a wide range of people come together to express their views of life. The festival is especially important as the expression of a mutual desire for a future of tolerance and respect.