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Ash Wednesday begins the Lenten season, a 40-day period associated with fasting and piety in preparation for Easter. Many Christians mark the few days leading up to it with "carnival," the last opportunity to consume special foods and drinks lest they go to waste.

Carnival and its various spellings stem from the Milanese carne levale, which means "to remove meat" or "raise flesh"; Christians traditionally abstained from meat during Lent.

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Similar boisterous celebrations predate Christianity: the ancient Roman Saturnalia and Bacchanalia, the Greek Dionysia and Russian Maslenitsa are just a few. Over time, carnival celebrations have spread around the world. Here's a look at some of the revelry that began last weekend.