09 February 2010
Posted in CULTURE AND TRADITIONS
Carnevale in Italy takes place on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday and Lent each year, although the festivities often start earlier - and why not?
Although ”Carnevale” is connected with Christianity, and more specifically with Catholicism, it actually has far more ancient origins, as it is believed to go back to pagan times where it was used as an opportunity to forget social rules and hierarchies and to have fun, play tricks and laugh.
The masks worn at Carnevale in Italy to a certain extent still serve this purpose today. It is believed that the word “Carnevale” is derived from the latin “carnem lavare”, meaning “eliminate meat”, referring to the period of abstinence imposed by Lent.
Nowadays, Carnevale is a fantastic excuse for people to put their lives on hold and enjoy themselves. In most Italian towns there is some kind of celebration, including masked balls, costume parties for children, circus acts and parades of all kinds. There are some towns which are better known than others for their Carnevale festivities however...
Venice is perhaps the best known of all. The entire town fills with people from all over the world to see the exquisite 18th century costumes and beautiful handmade masks, as well as the world class acrobats, actors, musicians and other performers.
Viareggio, on the Ligurean Sea, takes Carnevale and its masks and gives it something of a modern twist. Alongside the traditional floats and masks are those which lampoon politicians and celebrities. This is one of the longest carnevale celebrations in the country and covers all five weekends preceding Lent, as well as Carnevale itself.
In Piemonte, the town of Ivrea has a very unusual, interesting way of celebrating Carnevale... aside from the floats and the dressing up present in the whole country, they also celebrate with the “battle of the oranges”, where the people throw up to 400 tonnes of oranges at each other as a symbol of rebellion against those in power.
If you would like to experience this wonderful Italian festival, then why not come out to Italy for it? You never know, you might even find inspiration for your wedding... how about a masked ball? Acrobats performing? A Venitian theme? Orange throwing? Okay, maybe not that last one, but you get the idea...