VENETIAN CARNIVAL

A magic story that still happen

History of carnival of venice

 

Carnival of Venice (or Carnevale di Venezia in Italian) was first recorded in 1268 and was followed by many others until the fall of the Venetian Serenissima Republic in 1798. Venetian Masks have always been a central feature of the Venetian Carnival. Traditionally people were allowed to wear masks between the festival of Santo Stefano (St. Stephen’s Day, December 26) at the start of the carnival season and midnight of Shrove Tuesday. Masks were also allowed during Ascension and from October 5 to Christmas, people could spend a large proportion of the year in disguise. Unfortunately, some individuals took illegal advantage of being unrecognizable to perform acts of violence, theft and prostitution. This subversive nature of the festival caused many laws created over the centuries in Italy attempting to restrict celebrations and often banning the wearing of masks.

The wearing of masks in theatres dates back as far as the ancient Greek festivals in honour of Dionysius, god of theatre. When the Romans conquered Southern Europe, they adapted the Grecian love of theatre and the use of masks in plays and celebrations. The Venice Carnival, (or Carnevale) which dates back to the 15th century, is still famous today, attracting visitors from all around the world to the colour and excitement of this ancient tradition and the elaborately decorated masquerade masks.

Through the Carnival Venetian Mask-makers (or Mascherari in Italian) enjoyed a special position in society, with their own laws and their own guild.

In 1797 Venice became part of the Austrian-held Kingdom of Lombardy-Venetia when Napoleon signed the Treaty of Campo Formio. The Austrians took control of the city on January 18, 1798 and it fell into a decline which also effectively brought Venetian Carnival celebrations to a halt for almost two centuries.

Venetian Carnival was outlawed by the fascist government around 1930, and reborn in 1979. The modern-day merchants of Venice quickly recognized the economic potential of this event, and a new Venetian Carnival was born.

Today the famous Venetian Carnival starts on February 2nd and ends on Shrove Tuesday (Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras), the day before Ash Wednesday. The Venetian masks and costumes are worn by people who often travel from all over the world to attend and perform on renewed Venetian Carnival in magnificent city on the water. Many involve male and female or group versions and are based on old Venetian characters and costumes. They are BautaColombinaDamaGattoJesterJollyVoltoZanni, and others.

Venice operated as an aristocratic republic, limiting democracy to the upper class. The ordinary people lacked government representation, yet adored the aristocracy. This allowed the aristocracy, wielding wealth, power, and consensus, to shape Venetian society.

However, Venetian nobles weren’t idle feudal lords. They were risk-taking merchants and adventurers, facing pirates, storms, and unfamiliar lands on Eastern trade routes. Adventure was their way of life, shaping a city full of diverse experiences.La venditrice di essenze by Pietro Longhi

Masks symbolized freedom, allowing anything under their anonymity. Adventure thrived in Venice, breaking traditional boundaries. Masks infiltrated daily life, even becoming compulsory in certain places like the state casino.

Post the Venetian Republic’s fall, mask-making faced a decline but resurged in the 1970s. Today masks adorn every corner in Venice, attracting tourists worldwide.