6 facts about the Venice Carnival that will surprise you
Now in Venice there is a carnival. The most incredible, mysterious and sophisticated show on the planet. While we are struggling with snowfalls and traffic jams, many inhabitants of the earth rush to Italy to walk the streets in lush dresses and masks, columbines. Venetian carnival falls at the height of winter, but holiday dates vary. This year, it began on January 27 and will end on February 13, 2018, on the so-called Tuesday of Mardi Gras. And if this time you were not going to participate in Italian street festivities, then perhaps our 8 facts about the Venice Carnival will not only surprise you, but will inspire you to participate in it the next time.
1. Napoleon Bonaparte banned the Venice Carnival
You will be surprised at what Bonaparte has to do with it. But it was this famous French commander who conquered the Venetian Republic at the end of the 18th century, put an end to this unique medieval power and banned the Venice Carnival. Obviously, the emperor was afraid of assassination attempts and masked conspiracies. Not without reason – and before it happened that carnival fun turned into bloody showdowns.
Alas, as a result of the phobias of the French emperor, humanity lost almost one of the most grandiose festive events in the world for almost two centuries. Now it’s hard to believe it, but the tradition was renewed recently, just a few decades ago. Italian patriots who dreamed of returning the festival to the streets of the city finally got permission from the pope to conduct it in 1979, director Federico Fellini played a big role in this.
2. The Venetian mask was a cover for thieves and scammers
Why is there so much mystery around the Venetian masks, they still excite the hearts of people, although it would seem that what is in them? Just a mask, just beautiful. The fact is that many of us do not remember the subtext or even never knew the reasons why masks have taken root in Venice, but we feel the background. Once upon a time there was a whole “mask culture” in the republic. Venetians were allowed to wear them not only on carnival days, but also on certain weekdays.
Many citizens more and more abused this right, anonymously committing unseemly acts, for example, visiting dens. It was expanse for Don Juan and thieves, and more than once under the clownish cover serious political acts were carried out, up to and including coups d’etat. The case ended with a strict ban on wearing masks outside the holiday weeks. Today, of course, no one will bother you to walk in July over the Rialto Bridge in a medieval costume, but most likely you will find yourself alone in your rush.
3. The word “carnival” can be translated as “meat, goodbye!”
The Carnival of Venice, like our Pancake week, was dated by the church to the beginning of Great Lent in the Middle Ages. Therefore, the phrase “carne, vale!” – “meat, goodbye!” – has since been transformed into the name of all masquerade festivals. And the custom of masking faces was borrowed in the culture of Ancient Rome, and was designed for a short time to equalize people of all classes so that class prejudices do not interfere with general fun and relaxation.
4. Dr. Plague really existed
In addition to Colombina, a mask covering only her eyes, and Volto (Citizen) – a rounded mask that repeats the shape of the face, there is also a long-nosed mask, the most frightening, is Dr. Plague. So, this Doctor Plague, or rather, the doctors really existed. They wore such masks in the hope that the aromatic substances embedded in the long nose of papier-mâché would help them protect themselves from a terrible disease. They wore black raincoats of waxed cloth on their clothes, and wore a wand in their hands so as not to come into contact with the sick.
5. Famous people of Italy fly over the city in a donkey costume
Medieval Venetians loved to sincerely have fun. The new life of the carnival gives rise to new successful traditions in the original Venetian spirit. On one of the carnival days in the sky above the town of Mestre (a continental suburb of Venice), a famous person flies in a donkey costume. This is a fun parody of the key festival ceremony – the flight of an angel over the central square of San Marco. For the first time a celebrity dressed as a donkey flew on a special cable over Mestre in 2002, and since then it has been an obligatory ritual of the festival.
6. Carnival does not have to be dressed in a medieval costume or in a dress of the Renaissance
In today’s carnival, centuries-old traditions are organically mixed with the norms of 21st century festivals. And if you want to participate, then you can safely exchange a patrician frock coat for Batman’s outfit. After all, this is a living holiday, not a dead longing for the past. Therefore, do not think that the streets are crowded with endless Harlequins and Colombins. Meeting Harry Potter, druids, or even Cheburashka these days is normal.