Carnival is a festive season which occurs immediately before Lent; usually February. It typically involves a parade combining circus elements, masks and public street parties. People often dress up or masquerade during the celebrations and is traditionally held in Roman Catholic societies. While the starting day of Carnival varies, the festival usually builds up to a crescendo in the week before lent, ending on Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday).
The origin of the name "carnival" is disputed. Variants in Italian dialects suggest that the name comes from the Italian carne levare, "to remove meat", since meat is prohibited during Lent.