By Ela Vasilescu – Writer –
In February, from Venice and Milan, to Viareggio and Rome, down to the villages and towns of Sicily, Italy is invaded by masks, confetti, colors and lights that build a very exciting and unique atmosphere. It’s Carnival time! A tradition that has ancient roots and has become a long-awaited ritual of the year where history and fun intertwine.
Carnevale, also known as carnival or mardi gras is celebrated 40 days before Easter, a final party before Ash Wednesday and the restrictions of Lent. The name is said to derive from the Latin “carnem levare” – “take away the meat”, which in antiquity was used to indicate the banquet held the last day before the period of abstinence from meat. A huge winter festival celebrated with parades, masquerade balls, entertainment, music and parties, where the disguise becomes the protagonist, allowing anyone to pretend to be whomever they wish to be for a few days.
Italy’s most famous carnival is held in Venice, where it was first recorded in 1268. Due to its seditious nature, throughout the years there were many attempts to restrict celebrations and often the wearing of mask was forbidden by specially created laws. Masks have always been the main characteristic of the Venetian Carnival; traditionally people were also allowed to wear masks during the Ascension and from October 5th to Christmas, thus spending a big part of the year in disguise. The mask makers had a very high and appreciated position in society, benefiting from their own laws and their own guild.
Although initially a feast characterized by unrestrained enjoyment of food, alcohol and sensual pleasures, a temporary opportunity for the lower classes to overturn norms, nowadays the carnival is a time when people put their daily lives on hold to laugh at themselves, their leaders and their world. Pranks are very common during Carnevale, hence the saying A Carnevale Ogni Scherzo Vale – any joke is allowed during carnival. This year the Venice Carnival starts on January 23rd and ends on February 9th promising a lot of interesting, exciting events that you can discover on the official website at: