The time of the year when...

When we imagine a carnival, we think of flashy costumes, loud celebrations and extraordinary excess. Less often acknowledged are the origins of carnival, a collective ritual that goes back to ancient times.

What we now know as carnival is said to have roots in the Ancient Roman celebration Saturnalia. At the end of the year people from every walk of life would assemble and feast in honor of Saturn. According to the myth, Saturn had reigned over the Golden Age of humankind — a time of plenty, equality and peace — before his mysterious disappearance. The Saturnalia were rites of remembrance for this long-lost utopia.

Saturnalia was a time to break norms. Slaves would speak and walk freely, the rich would serve the poor. The privileged would be scorned and the outcasts would be paraded through the streets.

Every year, for a short time, the people of the city subverted the social order. That which would be impossible, unimaginable, on any other day, becomes the rule. They had a saying for it in Latin. Semel in anno licet insanire. Once a year it is permissible to go insane.

K2.0’s Carnival follows in this tradition. Our Carnival marks the time of year when people come together to challenge norms, reimagine our surroundings and lean towards a world that is more open and free. And like carnivals of old, we do so through community and fun.

But in a break from traditional carnival, the point of K2.0’s Carnival is not to subvert systems of oppression for a moment, only to be reinstated when the celebration ends. Saturn, after all, was the god of sowing, the god of seeds. K2.0’s Carnival is there to plant the seeds for an enduring reimagining of the social order.

Every summer, K2.0’s Carnival marks the time of year when we gather publicly to question the pressing issues of our time. We do so to strike a blow against the idea that the world must be as it is. If to do so is to be insane, well, it’s permissible to go insane once a year, and our duty to remain so all year long.

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