Venice Carnival (Carnevale di Venezia) is an annual festival held in Venice in February. The carnival begins about two weeks before the Ash Wednesday (in the Latin rite of the Catholic Church – the day of the beginning of Lent, celebrated 45 calendar days before Easter; in Orthodoxy it corresponds to a clean Monday) and ends on Fat Tuesday (a carnival holiday is celebrated in the Catholic world on the eve of Ash Wednesday).
Origin and history
According to historians, the roots of the Venetian carnival originate in ancient Roman festivals: the annual Saturnalia – celebrations held after harvesting in honor of the god Saturn during the winter solstice. Saturnalia was accompanied by mass festivities, in which both slave owners and slaves took part, and in order to hide their belonging to different social classes, participants in the celebrations put on masks.
The first mention of the Venetian carnival dates back to 1094 A.D. e. The main attribute of the carnival was masks and costumes that hide the faces of the celebrants and their belonging to the estates. For those who lived under strict religious prohibitions, the carnival was an outlet. In Venice masks were allowed to be worn only during the celebration, otherwise severe penalties were applied: for men – imprisonment for two years, for women – public beating.
Until the XIX century, the carnival was the main event in the city, but subsequently, interest in it began to fade away.
During the 1970s, the Italian government decided to revive the history and culture of Venice, and the main step in this direction was to return the tradition of the annual Venetian carnival. Today, during the carnival, about 30,000 thousand tourists come to Venice per day.
The carnival begins with an old celebration in honor of the release of the Venetian girls abducted by Spanish pirates (Festa delle Marie). Comedy shows are held at St. Mark’s Square, after which the carnival procession begins. Concerts are held everywhere in the city, theaters stage performances within the framework of the carnival, and points are held in the palaces of the city.
Venetian masks are usually made of leather or papier-mâché. Initially, the masks were pretty simple. Nowadays, they are colorfully painted, decorated with bird feathers and precious stones.