During the Carnival period social conventions are lifted and anyone can play to be whoever they wants, hiding their true identity, social belonging and sex, behind a mask that usually covers the whole face.
According to many interpretations the word carnival derives from the Latin “carnem levare” (“to eliminate the meat“), meaning the last banquet held on the last day of Carnival (Fat Tuesday), just before the period of abstinence and fasting of Lent.
The festivities take place on Fat Thursday and Fat Tuesday, that is, the last Thursday and the last Tuesday before the beginning of Lent. In particular, Fat Tuesday—also known as “Mardí Gras”—is the closing day of the Carnival celebrations, as Lent in the Roman rite begins with Ash Wednesday.
History of the Venetian Carnival
Carnival came during the late Middle Ages and was first documented in the year 1000. It was the “bread and circus” philosophy; the Doge of the time conceded a two-months period of festivities to the people, to better endure social conventions and misery.
The most incredible and crazy years of the Venetian Carnival were those of the XX century that Giacomo Casanova described in his memoirs. In those years the Carnival took place between luxury parties and masked balls, which provided the right context for all libertines. Over the years the Serenissima was forced to launch a series of laws to prevent the Carnival from becoming an opportunity for criminals to perform more or less serious acts. It therefore became forbidden to enter masquerades in convents, or to carry weapons under the large cloaks of carnival costumes. Until it became totally forbidden to hide the identity during the Carnival days, for security reasons.
In 1797, with the French occupation of Napoleon and the later Austrian occupation, the long tradition of Venetian Carnival was interrupted for fear of rebellion and disturbance by the population. Only in Burano and Murano, the Carnival celebrations continued their course, even if in a minor tone, retaining a certain vigor and joy.
Almost two centuries later, in 1979, the centuries-old tradition of the Venice Carnival has risen and in a few editions the Venice Carnival has returned to trace the footprints of the ancient event with great success. Over the years, the Carnival is often dedicated to a basic theme, to which to draw inspiration for festivals and cultural events. The current Venice Carnival has become a great and spectacular tourist event, which attracts thousands of visitors from all over the world.
Today it is an elegant and iconic party, in which Venice becomes even more fascinating; of the ancient social ritual little remains, but remain the charm, the mystery, the history and the incredible traditional costumes flaunted in a unique setting in the world.
The Winners (in my view)