The carnival was, in its inception, a celebration of a rebirth of nature -- the beginning of Spring and new life. However, pagan celebrations eventually became central to the carnival, and a notion of pandemonium and 'reversal' became its major theme. The 'dupe' or the 'jape' were its strongest commodities, and confidence tricksters and hustlers found a forum. Carnival was a place where the restrictive rules and mores of a structured and justiced society could be shunned along with many social codes. Thus with such expectations, and otherwise illicit appeal, the carnival had to promise and (at least sometimes) deliver intense activity, excitement, fun and forbidden pleasures. The patron would be tricked, separated from his or her money and pride - though a truly successful carnival would provide delight whilst one was being fooled. The carnival patron would be willing to be tricked, frightened, robbed - all in the name of amusement. This is its major coup.
In its earliest days the carnival played a significant role in the development of popular theatre, vernacular song and folk dances. Historically, the gypsy carnival has a definite place in even the most austere parts of the industrial world as the point of the carnival was a release from the tensions, mores, and laws of society. Carnivals were also strongly tied to commerce and trade ventures and remained this way until commerce and urban enterprise became more stabilised. Thus the performers travelled extensively across Europe, Asia and Africa, as they traded with and recruited from the strange and wonderful, world-over. The carnival revels in the point in time where ecstatic enjoyment could topple at any moment to intense horror and disappointment. That split second where one emotion is about to become engulfed by another... but not quite.