“Considered the single most significant event in the country for cultural expression of different races, the Blacks and Whites Carnival is an unforgettable experience.”
El Carnaval de Negros y Blancos (The Carnival of Blacks and Whites) of Pasto, Colombia, was declared National Cultural Heritage by the congress of the Republic of Colombia in April 2002. The carnival is celebrated every year from January 4 to January 6 and it attracts a considerable number of tourists from around the world. The carnival consists of four well defined phases which include the pre-carnival, the arrival of the Castaneda Family, the day of the blacks and the day of the whites. It is the most ancient carnival in South America, its origins date back to the times of Spanish rule.
The Blacks and Whites Carnival is one of the most ancient carnivals in the Americas. It commemorates the day in which the African slaves had a free day when they unleashed all their happiness.
Some historians refer that in 1607, there was a slave rebellion in the town of Remedios, Antioquia, that made the authorities panic. The event was remembered by the black population of Popayán, Cauca, who demanded a day off, in which they were really free. The king of Spain conceded January 5. It is said that when the news reached home the African population flock to the streets and danced at the rhythm of African music and started to blacken with coal all the white walls of the city.
The enthusiastic celebration was brought to Pasto by the Ayerbe family around 1854. By 1887, the celebration had reached to certain social spheres and acquired a high level of refinement, and people started using costumes and masks. The Castaneda family recreated by the January 4 krewes could be a characterization of the Ayerbe Family.
Day of the Blacks
On January 5 is the Day of the Blacks, followed by the Day of the Whites on January 6. During the day of the blacks, which is believed commemorates the day in which the African slaves had a free day in which they unleashed all their happiness, people play on the streets to paint each other in black with colors and cosmetics created for this special purpose.
Day of the Whites
On January 6 is the Day of the Whites. During this day, the people of Pasto paint each other in white using white colors and cosmetics as well as throwing each other white powder and talcum powder. On the day of the whites, the final parade takes place with the presentation of floats, krewes, musical and dances groups, and people in costumes, all of them competing for the prizes. The carnival floats are works of high quality and originality elaborated by local artisans who spend the entire year preparing their carriages for this occasion.
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