Carnevale, the Festival of Masks

Carnevale, also known as carnival or mardi gras, is celebrated in Italy and many places around the world 40 days before Easter, a final party before Ash Wednesday and the restrictions of Lent.

Carnevale in Italy is a huge winter festival celebrated with parades, masquerade balls, entertainment, music, and parties. Children throw confetti at each other and play tricks one each other in fun.

Although carnival is actually one day, in Venice and many other places in Italy the carnival celebrations and parties may begin  2 weeks earlier.  This year February 19th,  the “Grand toast in Venice” will be the opening event, an elegant and joyful “cheers” for tourists and locals alike  to officially welcome the Carnival. The main attraction will be a big wine fountain spouting vino for all.   The dancing commences and a full agenda of activities continues  throughout the 2 week long festival.

Masks are an important part of the carnevale festival and Venice is the best city for traditional carnival masks. Carnival masks are sold year round and can be found in many shops in Venice, ranging from very cheap  to elaborate and expensive.  People also wear elaborate costumes for the festival and there are costume or masquerade balls, both private and public.

The Grand Finale of Carnevale in Venice takes place at Midnight Tuesday, March 8th ….the “Silent Regatta”…a long parade of gondolas and row boats parading along the Grande Canal, from Rialto to the basin of San Marco.  The canal will be illuminated with thousands of candles in a perfect nineteenth century atmosphere.  At the terminus in the basin of San Marco, thousands of illuminated paper balloons, will be released in the sky as a symbol of the end of the Carnival and the symbolic commencement of the Lenten season.

After two weeks of festivities and partying, and this beautiful romantic grand finale…one would truly be ready for a period of abstinence, temperance, and self-denial in preparation for the joy of Easter (Pasqua)!

Another popular destination for mardi gras is New Oleans, LA. Masks, beads and elaborate costumes are a must here.  Enjoy the french influence on the local flavors in the food, drink and personalities in this city.  During mardi gras the streets are filled with partygoers and music.  Here is a traditional New Orleans mardi gras parade mask.

Want to learn more about New Orleans, LA?
Read wikipedia.

“Mardi Gras arrived in North America as a French Catholic tradition with the Le Moyne brothers,[13] Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville and Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville, in the late 17th century, when King Louis XIV sent the pair to defend France’s claim on the territory of Louisiane, which included what are now the U.S. states of AlabamaMississippi, and Louisiana.[13]

The expedition, led by Iberville, entered the mouth of the Mississippi River on the evening of March 2, 1699, Lundi Gras. They did not yet know it was the river explored and claimed for France by René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle in 1683. The party proceeded upstream to a place on the west bank about 60 miles downriver from where New Orleans is today, and…  READ MORE

 

Check out these great photos from around the world.

http://gu.com/p/24a7v

One Comment to “Carnevale, the Festival of Masks”

  1. Ciao! I absolutely love the culture surrounding Carnevale in Italy and the masks are such a beautiful part of it.

    I actually wrote on my blog about another aspect of Carnevale in Italy: fried foods!

    Here’s the link: http://garrettword.wordpress.com/2011/02/10/fried-stuff-in-italy-must-be-carnevale-time/

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