The Venice Carnival is one of the most lavish and incredible holidays in Italy, held every year, two weeks before the start of Lent.

According to scientists, its roots lie in the ancient Roman "Saturnalia" (an annual feast in honor of the god Saturn), which took place after the harvest during the winter solstice. This is where the carnival masks come from. Disguise allowed people to retain their anonymity, eliminating the class difference. This festive period was also a symbol of the upside down world - then everything was allowed.

It is believed that the Carnival first took place in the 11 century. At the end of the 18 century, during the "sunset" of the Roman Empire, it became a kind of "feast during the plague". So gradually the tradition fades, and with the coming of Napoleon to power, the carnivals are completely forgotten.

It was not until 1979 that the tradition was restored with noisy multicolored processions on the streets of Venice. Since then, the parade has been held annually, led by the Doge and the Bishop of Venice. Countless concerts and events pull the town out of the winter lethargy, filling the squares, churches and palaces with colorful party halls. Jugglers, clowns, magicians, acrobats, mimes, captivate the audience with their masterful numbers, and a huge stage rises on the San Marco Square, which is the heart and heart of the holiday, featuring numerous performances.

Traditionally, the day before the opening, Saturday, there is a procession of girls in medieval costumes, called the "Festa delle Marie". The start of the carnival is always on a Sunday. Residents from all parts of Venice are marching along the streets in typical carnival costumes. The procession ends at San Marco Square, where participants and visitors can enjoy another popular and perhaps most spectacular event at the carnival - "The Flight of the Angel" ("Il Volo del Angelo"). Here, from the top of the bell tower of the Basilica of San Marco, the enchanting white figure of an acrobat representing an angel slowly rises and drops. This performance is inspired by a real-life case from as far back as 1548, when a Turk, walking from his moored boat to the pier and walking on a rope, reaches the highest part of the bell tower of San Marco. Today, the image of a Turk is replaced by an "angel" (dressed in a white girl who descends a rope from the bell tower to the square).

During the ten days of the carnival, musicians from around the world perform concerts in the narrow streets of Venice. A variety of masks, both private and public, are held in various palaces along the Grande Canal. Improvised scenes feature plays by various authors, with comedians of the Venetian Carlo Goldoni (1707 - 1793) among the favorites. Being skeptical and negative about luxury and carnage during Carnival, Goldoni ridiculed and caricatures mores this holiday, and his plays elevated the traditional "Comedy del Arte" (Italian traditional theater with masked characters) to the new "Comedy of Characters" .

Here are some of the most typical Venetian masks you can see on the streets during this period:

  • The Doctor and the Plague - in the past, the most frightening in Venice were the plague epidemics, which regularly wiped out much of the population. "El Medico Dea Peste" - The "plague doctor" used by doctors who visited patients during these epidemics. The mask nowadays is a linen cloth with wax on it and a mask of the face that looks like a scary eagle. It was thought that by such an ugly disguise, the terrible plague would pass away. And to protect the doctor from inhaling contaminated air, purifying herbs were placed in the large beak of the mask.
  • Panathalone - one of the most famous Venetian masks. Appears in the comedies of Goldoni ("Pantalon de Bisononi") and is an old trader, pedant and ignorant, always frowning and a little crazy.
  • Fanakapa - this is the opposite of the Pantalone ridiculing the bourgeoisie. He has a wide-brimmed hat, red tie, white coat, green glasses and a parrot nose.
  • The Matachino Mockingbird - in the past, he threw eggs filled with rose water on ladies who rode in gondolas.
  • Nietzschel (handkerchief) - the peasants and the poorer ladies disguised themselves, covering their heads with "zendale" (a long silk scarf), and hiding their faces behind the "seas" (a small oval mask, held at the back with a button).
  • Naga (disguised) - a housewife-clad image with a cat-like face that used to hang the ladies and meow. On hand, he carries a live kitten basket and is always in the company of camouflaged baby friends.
  • Jani - usually with a white wide-sleeved shirt, a belt bag, a cane with a whip and a beret on the head. Jani is a satirical image of a peasant, from whom later came the masks of Harlequin, Pulcinella and other variants of the stupid and clever servant in "Comedy del Arte".

On the last day of the Carnival, thousands of masked people gather in the square for the Carnival Funeral. A typical image of this grotesque procession is "Bernardi ipiegao" - a syphilis-ridden man in a cart towed by Pulcinella (another popular image from Comedy del Arte). The San Marco Piazza is fitted with a large Pantaloon stuffed animal, which is ritually ignited. The fire also symbolically burns the remaining masks from the closing celebrations. In the past, the people sang "El va, el va!" - "The carnival is over!" the word "carnival".

And since the Carnival in Venice looks one way in photos, but quite different when you take part in it live, visit it!

To fully immerse yourself in the solemn atmosphere, to feel the spirit of Serenissima (one of the names of the Republic of Venice in the past), to taste the typical holiday pancakes and syrupy cookies - "beans", "jets" and "Baikal" to purify yourself spiritually and emotionally, participate in one of the most magnificent and spectacular events in the world!

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