Carnival of Venice

Friday, 22 January 2021 - 11:00 am (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General

© flickr.com - Frank Kovalchek/cc-by-2.0

© flickr.com – Frank Kovalchek/cc-by-2.0

The Carnival of Venice (Carnevale di Venezia) is an annual festival held in Venice, Italy. The carnival ends with the Christian celebration of Lent, forty days before Easter, on Shrove Tuesday (Martedì Grasso or Mardi Gras), the day before Ash Wednesday. The festival is world-famous for its elaborate masks.

According to legend, the Carnival of Venice started following the military victory of the Venetian Republic over the Patriarch of Aquileia, Ulrico di Treven in the year 1162. In the honour of this victory, the people started to dance and gather in San Marco Square. Apparently, this festival started in that period and became official in the Renaissance. In the seventeenth century, the baroque carnival was a way to save the prestigious image of Venice in the world. It was very famous during the eighteenth century. It encouraged licence and pleasure, but it was also used to protect Venetians from present and future anguish. However, under the rule of the Holy Roman Emperor and later Emperor of Austria, Francis II, the festival was outlawed entirely in 1797 and the use of masks became strictly forbidden. It reappeared gradually in the nineteenth century, but only for short periods and above all for private feasts, where it became an occasion for artistic creations.

© Unofeld781/cc-by-sa-3.0 © Roberto Vicario/cc-by-sa-3.0 © Shesmax/cc-by-sa-4.0 © Naturpuur/cc-by-4.0 Traditional Venetian Paper Mache Mask workshop © Biser Todorov/cc-by-sa-4.0 © flickr.com - Frank Kovalchek/cc-by-2.0
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Traditional Venetian Paper Mache Mask workshop © Biser Todorov/cc-by-sa-4.0
After a long absence, the Carnival returned in 1979. The Italian government decided to bring back the history and culture of Venice and sought to use the traditional Carnival as the centrepiece of its efforts. The redevelopment of the masks began as the pursuit of some Venetian college students for the tourist trade. Since then, approximately 3 million visitors come to Venice every year for the Carnival. One of the most important events is the contest for la maschera più bella (“the most beautiful mask”) which is judged by a panel of international costume and fashion designers.

Masks have always been an important feature of the Venetian carnival. Traditionally people were allowed to wear them between the festival of Santo Stefano (St. Stephen’s Day, December 26) and the end of the carnival season at midnight of Shrove Tuesday (movable, but during February or early March). As masks were also allowed on Ascension and from October 5 to Christmas, people could spend a large portion of the year in disguise. Maskmakers (mascherari) enjoyed a special position in society, with their own laws and their own guild, with their own statute dated 10 April 1436. Mascherari belonged to the fringe of painters and were helped in their task by sign-painters who drew faces onto plaster in a range of different shapes and paying extreme. Venetian masks can be made of leather, porcelain or using the original glass technique. The original masks were rather simple in design, decoration, and often had a symbolic and practical function. Nowadays, most Italian masks are made with the application of gesso and gold leaf and are hand-painted using natural feathers and gems to decorate. However, this makes them rather expensive when compared to the widespread, low-quality masks produced mainly by American factories. This competition accelerates the decline of this historical craftsmanship peculiar to the city of Venice. Several distinct styles of mask are worn in the Venice Carnival, some with identifying names. People with different occupations wore different masks.

Read more on Carnevale di Venezia and Wikipedia Carnival of Venice (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.






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