To the Editor.
—The article on Felix Nussbaum1 defines carnival as meaning "farewell to the flesh." It means nothing of the kind, but this nonsense has been perpetuated long after the true origin of the word has been demonstrated and it spoils an otherwise excellent article by Dr Southgate.Carnival originally was a spring festival, a celebration of the feast of Astarte, Phoenician goddess of love, of spring, and of regeneration and rebirth. To the Greeks she was Aphrodite; to the Romans, Venus. The people of southern Anatolia (the biblical Hittites) called her Cybele, and the Hebrews' name for her was Storeth (also Astoreth in Kings). To the ancient Britons and Gaels the festival of Astarte was called Easter. Remove the E from Easter and the relationship becomes more obvious. The Phoenicians were a nautical people with colonies in numerous parts of the Mediterranean coasts of France and of
Murphy ID. Carnival? Not Putting Away the Flesh but Bringing Out the Floats. JAMA. 1993;270(17):2055. doi:10.1001/jama.1993.03510170045027
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