The History of Carnival is as colorful as the present day festival. It's roots lie in the festivities of the original civilization in Ancient Kemet (Egypt). The many tribes that gathered around the Nile Delta practiced similar ceremonies to praise their deities. These tribes were nomads and settled near and far: many Yoruba, Ibo and Hausa tribes settled the western region of Africa - some of them ended up in the Caribbean in the 1700's and 1800's because of Slavery.
During and after the Slave trade when many people were uprooted and transferred to Caribbean Islands by force their traditions were kept residually in their souls. These traditions were then incorporated by slaves in La Trinity (Trinidad) and other Caribbean Islands where the French and other land owners settled. Parts of these festivities and celebrations resembled the French Mardi Gras. There-in lies the birth of Carnival in the Caribbean. However, Carnival is continuously evolving and today bears no resemblance to the original.
During this early period the French, Spanish and British aristocracy held grand and lavish costume balls, feasts and small street parades. Slaves were not permitted to participate. After the abolishment of slavery, thousands of freed slaves celebrated by lampooning their former masters and mimicking the dress and behavior of the European people. The character of Carnival changed - becoming more boisterous, noisy and disorderly while at the same time getting more colorful and spectacular with magnificent and elaborately designed costumes.
The people of the Caribbean have exported their carnival traditions to Canada, England, and several US cities. However the New York version of this celebration far exceeds any similar celebration in the US.