Lent: that time of year when some people decide to give up something they enjoy, like sweets, or drinking, or clown porn. But then, there are always those who don’t bother to check their revelry for the period, engaging in wild drunken chocolate orgies right in the city center, and a clash of cultures ensues. Thus, we have this 16th century painting by Pieter Bruegel, “The Fight Between Carnival and Lent.”
Technically, this is a representation of a traditional event where avatars of Carnival and Lent would battle, with elements of the pious or wild and wacky elements of human nature going on in the background. It is also chock full of allegory. But thinking about allegory requires work and research, so we’ll just look at it all literally, shall we?
First off, there is the figure of Carnival: a fat dude wearing a pie on his head riding bareback on a wine barrel, pushed by two guys wearing clown hats. The fat guy brandishes a spit with a pig’s head on it. Looks like he’s ready to bring it. And in Lent’s corner…
A woman (?) with a bucket on her head being pulled on a cart by an elderly monk and nun, distributing pretzels. Her weapon of choice is a paddle with two fish on it. I think Carnival has a distinct advantage with the pointy stick. Also I am not sure what that guy in the upper right corner is doing. Three of his limbs appear to be amputated. Did he just flop himself into the middle of the square? Why is he using a stump to reach for alms instead of, say, the one hand he still has? Is he in the middle of inventing breakdancing?
Moving on, the Carnival gang continues to rock the amazing hats, with this group featuring a bard with an upside-down pot on his head, a man wearing an inverted nose, and another guy who seems to have strapped waffles to his temples.
Waffles seem to be the ultimate in non-Lenten indulgence, on par with a slab of steak or a kinky cosplay lapdance. Wikipedia confirms that this Carnival follower is “a female figure who is carrying on her head a table with bread and waffles on it.”
Mmmm, drizzle that maple syrup all over, baby. Other signs of intemperance include…
OH GOD! THEY ARE SINGING RING AROUND THE ROSY!! Children, avert your eyes from this lechery!!
Meanwhile, a fairly patriotic imp-demon leads this hunchback and his wife to the pub.
Even the town’s amputees have ganged up. One of them seems to be wearing a lampshade and a pimp-cape. Also, the guy on the ground that still has all his limbs looks like he’s trying to hold down a couple of turtles from making a break for the village well and freedom.
So what about at the church? Wholesome activities must abound to counteract this blatant carnality!
…And chair theft. Apparently chair theft is the proper way to celebrate Lent.