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Throughout the Catholic world Carnival is a big celebration with the purpose of getting all the craziness out of people's systems so they'll be ready for the solemnity of Lent. Mexico is no exception and Carnival celebrations in Mexico are some of the most exuberant you'll find anywhere.
Just as the dates for Easter vary from year to year, so do the dates for Carnaval. Here are the Carnival dates for upcoming years:
2010 - February 10 to 16
2011 - March 3 to March 9
2012 - February 15 to 21
2013 - February 6 to 12
2014 - February 26 to March 4
2015 - February 11 to 17
Though celebrations vary by destination, the biggest Carnivals usually begin with the Quema del Mal Humor, or burning of ill humor. This is usually an effigy of an unpopular political figure and this symbolically represents the commencement of merriment, leaving behind everyday worries and concerns. This kicks off the festivities, including the crowning of the Carnival Queen, and the King - sometimes referred to as the Rey Feo, or "Ugly King." There are parades, live entertainment, dances, and carnival games.Festivities end on Mardi Gras, "Fat Tuesday," or Martes de Carnaval, when another effigy is burned, this one called "Juan Carnaval," which represents all the wanton revelry associated with Carnival. This marks the end of the debauchery and return to temperance. On Ash Wednesday folks will go to church to receive ashes and the abstinence of Lent will begin.
The biggest Carnaval celebrations take place in Veracruz and Mazatlan, but other celebrations take place throughout the country. See our list of the top places to celebrate Carnival in Mexico.