The Venice Carnival – the ancestor of all other carnivals – to this day remains the most famous and popular carnival in Europe and, along with the carnival in Rio de Janeiro, in the world. The main advantage of the Venetian carnival in relation to other numerous carnivals is the fact that almost any tourist can become an active and full participant in it for free.
Therefore, thousands of tourists from different parts of the world go to the most romantic city not only in the summer, when the southern bright sun is overhead, and the sky is piercingly blue reflected in the same color as the water of the canals, but also at the end of winter, when the city is wrapped under a low dark sky light fog, and everything around it seems asleep and waiting for spring and warmth. Indeed, it was at this moment that the whole of Venice abruptly flares up with an incredibly bright and colorful holiday, marking the beginning of the annual carnival, giving all participants and spectators only positive emotions and unforgettable impressions.
Carnival in Venice
The history of the Venetian carnival is rooted in pagan times when, after harvesting, mass festivities everywhere began in honor of the god of Saturn – the Roman Saturnalia. It was then that the slaves and their masters celebrated sitting at the same table, and in order to get rid of class prejudices, everyone hid their faces with the help of masks. And no one could already say: who is the slave and who is the master.
In order to somehow adapt the pagan traditions to the Christian faith, the Catholic Church decided to use the ancient holiday as a preparation of believers for Lent before Easter. Therefore, festivities began two weeks before Ash Wednesday – the day of fasting, and the holiday itself was called the word carnival, which from Latin translates as “farewell to meat” – “carne vale”.
The Venice Carnival was first documented for the first time in 1094, and two hundred years later – in 1296 – the last day before Lent was officially proclaimed a festive day by the Senate of the Republic of Venice. In the days of the carnival, all the rules of everyday life, social conventions and even decency standards were canceled – the carnival mask and costume hid the true material wealth, age and gender. Residents of Venice so much loved masks that they began to wear them after the carnival in order to hide their face. Wearing small bautta masks was especially popular when visiting hot spots – brothels and gaming halls. Often, holiday masks began to be used to hide the face when committing crimes, so in 1608 wearing masks outside the carnival period was strictly forbidden.
One of the masks at the carnival in Venice
Currently, the Venetian carnival is still a place where you can and even need to forget about who you are, what you do in everyday life and how old you are. It is enough to change a regular T-shirt and jeans for a long old dress or costume, and put on a carnival mask on your face and go out to one of the streets or squares, where, depending on the costume and mood, forget about the time in which we live and feel proud and the impregnable princess or the real Casanova.
Masks for sale
Therefore, already a few days before the start of the carnival, when romantics from around the world begin to arrive in the city, numerous merchants literally fill up the shelves of their shops with all kinds of costumes, cloaks, masks and hats. The choice of buyers is limited only by their imagination and, sometimes, financial capabilities. In addition, real costumes made according to all the canons of the era and consisting of all items of clothing – from shoes and panties to hats and gloves, can be rented. Such suits are distinguished by the excellent quality of fabrics and sewing, but they have a significant disadvantage for many – a high price, reaching up to 250 Euro. Many of the tourists who attend the carnival annually bring such costumes with them, often made on their own.
Some of the celebrities flaunt in carnival days in exquisite designer costumes, made to order during the year by the best fashion designers and cost several thousand euros. The main square of the city – San Marco – turns into a kind of podium, where you can see exclusive models of costumes that can not be found at any of the fashion shows, while you don’t have to pay a cent for viewing.
Holders of carnival costumes will certainly find themselves in the center of attention of tourists in casual clothes who want, at all costs, to take a picture with a historical character. In such cases, it is not customary to refuse during the carnival, so you have to pose. It is customary to take pictures and get acquainted with other masked participants. Often such acquaintances develop into a long and serious relationship for many years. By the way, during acquaintance, you need to be vigilant – often, as in ancient times, a man and a woman can hide in a woman’s suit and under a woman’s mask.