I have always celebrated Carnival, I have pictures dated 1989 with a little me dressed as a Spanish lady. As a little girl my mum used to dress me up and take me to the main piazza in town to watch the confetti carpet covering the entire surface of the piazza. I was intrigued but a bit shy, so I would just walk between masks and happy faces with my hand secured into my mum’s, without saying a word.
Today, less shy but still so very curious, when I happen to be in Venice for the Carnival I take pictures, talk to the people in costume and jump around for the much excitement! Surrounded by the sparkling colorful dresses, in a shower of confetti, with signora Venice framing this glittering surreal party, it’s hard not to become obsessed with the Carnival!
During the week starting with “Fat” Thursday and continuing to “Shrove Tuesday”, there is an explosion of events, festivals, parades involving the whole Venetian area. It starts at St. Mark’s Square with the finals of the Best Costume Competition, and the “Flight of the Eagle” from St. Mark’s bell tower, partying on at the Arsenal with six nights of Carnival events, festivities and celebrations, and touching on the Mainland between Torre and Piazza Ferretto with the “Flying Donkey”. During the “Fat” week, there is also an “itinerant gastronomical theatre” travelling among mainland municipalities bringing acrobats and jugglers, playing and tossing food, involving adults and children in their shows.
This year “the most delicious Carnival on earth” comes alive with the motto “La festa più golosa del mondo!” The connecting threads of the Carnevale 2015 are: food, flavours, gluttony, tradition, stories and culinary rituals.
The Carnival season in Italy has just finished for this year, this post is my personal way to celebrate the Venetian Carnival, which is simply wonderful. I took these pictures on my last visit to the Carnival in 2013 when I went with a bunch of friends and my love (boyfriend at the time). The moment we arrived I got my face painted. And I did it again the following day (so did my love).
The celebration of Carnival has ancient origins and rooted in the Freedom of Saturnalia, a pagan ancient Romans festival, who gave life to the events of the hierarchical order overthrow.
The origin of the word “Carnival” comes from the Latin “carnem levare” that means to remove meat from the diet. The expression, in the Middle Ages, was used to describe the ecclesiastical requirement to abstain from eating meat from the first day of Lent, it means from the day after the Carnival ending, until the Thursday before Easter. The Carnival, in Roman Catholic liturgical calendar is necessarily placed between Epiphany (January 6th) and Lent.
The first documents dates back to Medieval Period (since the VIII century ) and talk about a festival with an inordinate enjoyment of food, drink and sensual pleasures. Throughout the Carnival period all the existing social order were inverted and the usual roles changed, hiding the usual identity behind masks.
In this era, and for the followed centuries, the Carnival began on the first Sunday of October to get in on the day after Epiphany, culminating in the days preceding Lent.
Later, in its golden age, 1700, the Carnival was concentrated in six weeks, from December 26th, to Shrove Tuesday. During the Carnival Venetians activities and dealings were in the background, and they gave a lot of their time to celebrate, jokes, entertainment and events set up throughout the city, especially in Saint Mark Square, along the Riva degli Schiavoni and in all the major areas of Venice.
This was Venice in the eighteenth century, the century that made the place of infinite charm. It was the Giacomo Casanova world, a world of festive, colorful and gallant, the painters world, the Carlo Goldoni birthplace, in his literary output, represents the spirit of the Carnival feast days.
Wearing masks and costumes was entirely possible to conceal their identities and set aside in this way, every form of personnel belonging to social class, sex, religion: everyone could adopt attitudes and behaviors according to new costumes and the changing appearance. Even today, the joyful participation in this ritual of the collective dressing up remains the essence of the Venice Carnival.
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