Carnevale di Venezia
Index of all
Venice Carnival articles
or Carnevale, is Venice's answer to Mardi Gras and Fasching. For eight
days before Lent each winter, tourists flood the city for an orgy of pageants,
dell'arte, concerts, balls, and masked self-display until Shrove Tuesday signals an end to
the party. (See our Venice
Carnival Dates calendar, which will open in a new browser window.)
Carnevale isn't just a Venetian
tradition; similar festivities occur throughout much of the Roman Catholic world,
including other cities in Italy. The term "carnevale" comes from the
Latin for "farewell to meat" and suggests a good-bye party for the steaks and
stews that Catholics traditionally gave up during the weeks of fasting before Easter. The
masquerade aspect of Carnival is even older: the Romans celebrated winter with a fertility
festival where masks were worn by citizens and slaves alike.
In its glory days of the 1700s,
the Carnevale di Venezia
began on December 26 and lasted until Ash Wednesday, with mask-wearing and other
unofficial activities continuing well into the spring. The nonstop partying, gambling, and
general irresponsibility reflected the decline of the Venetian Republic, which had begun
to lose wealth and power with the rise of Dutch and British trade in the 1600s. After
Napoleon Bonaparte conquered Venice in 1797, the Republic was finished and so were the
desultory remnants of Carnival.
Today's Venice Carnival
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