13 March 2011

LIFE: Carnival in Venice

Oh tears, the party is over! Last Tuesday was Martedi Grasso, aka Mardi Gras in the United States, the end of Carnival in Italy. But it sure was fun while it lasted.

In Venice, the last hurrah started at midnight with a flotilla of gondolas and boats along the Grand Canal.Hundreds of people holding flickering candles lined the banks of the Canal. It was a magical moment.

Venice is not the only city with a strong Carnival tradition in Italy, but it continues to be the most popular. In the northern Italian city of Ivera they throw oranges at each other. during Carnival. There must be a reason why they do that, but I can't imagine what it is.

Carnival as we know it today started out as a Pagan Roman festival called the Saturnalia. It was a time when slaves and masters hid their faces behind mask and ate, drank and danced (and maybe other things too) as equals with no fear of reprisals.

Celebrating carnival in Italy first shows up in the history books in 1092 AD. Wearing masks goes back to the 13th century. In 1268 the Council of Venice outlawed men throwing scented eggs at ladies. Can't imagine why they threw them in the first place. You mean guys were weird even back then? 

Because of all the hanky-panky that went on during Carnival, and still does, the Italian government has tried for centuries to restrict celebrations and ban the wearing of masks. But after all this time I think they’ve just about given up. After all, look at the Prime Minister we have and the fine example he sets.

Unlike Carnival in Brazil which is celebrated with a huge parade with floats and dancing girls, in Venice the people are the show, men and women parade up and down and all around Piazza San Marco, and pose for photos on Venice’s famous bridges. All in costume and masks of course, although this guy looks like he puts this outfit on every day of the week.


I think that's her hair sticking out of the top of her hat, but I can't be sure. All I know is that after the gondola and boat parades along the Grand Canal, after the confetti and multi-colored streamers that fly through the air,Carnival in Venice ends with a great fireworks show,and grand parties in elegant Venetian palazzo.Those Venetians, they really know how to throw a party.

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