In February 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; masks have always been the main characteristic of the Venetian Carnival. 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.