Carnival or Carnevale is one of the biggest celebrations in Italy. The most spectacular carnival happens in Venice, a city in Italy made up of 118 islands that are connected by canals. This festival is popular around the world for the beautiful costumes that people dress up in and their stylized masks known as Venetian masks.
It takes place in the days leading up to Lent. This year, the Venezia Carnevale is held from 16th February to 5th March.
What is Lent?
In the Christian tradition, Lent is a period of about six weeks before Easter. For Christians, observing Lent is one way of remembering the time Jesus fasted in the desert. During Lent, there are many foods that some Christians do not eat, such as meat, fish and eggs. Some just give up something they really enjoy such as cakes or chocolate. The period of Lent ends on Easter Sunday, which is a time of great celebration as Christians think of how Jesus had died on the cross and then rose back to life.
But why do people celebrate Carnevale before Lent?
Every year before Lent began, people would try to consume all the food that they can’t eat during Lent so that it does not get wasted. And no better way to do this than by throwing a grand party. According to tradition, Venice’s Carnival began in 1162. In fact, the word Carnevale may come from the Latin words carne and vale, meaning ‘farewell to meat’. By the 16th century, Venetians were celebrating Carnevale in style. However, the festival declined during the 18th century. But in 1979, a group of Venetian artisans came together to revive this old festival.
Today spectators from around the world visit the city’s famed canals as elaborately decorated boats, accompanied by music, make their way down the waterway in a masquerade parade during the Carnevale.
This year’s theme, ‘Blame the moon’ marks 50 years since man first walked on the moon. It also refers to Shakespeare’s play Othello, where the full moon is blamed for driving men crazy.
Written by: Chandni Shah. Chandni is a picture book collector, an educator and founder of Simplifly, a learning venture for children.