Origins of Venice Carnival and how to experience it at its best
A story to discover
This year Venice carnival festival will be held from Saturday, February 16 to Tuesday, March 5.
The early origins of the Carnevale can be tracked down to pre-Roman and Roman times, when the month of February was a month dedicated to purification and fertility rituals. Then, in the Middle Ages, Carnevale was a time-out from the rules and weight of moral opinion, and only with Renaissance it became a period of the year for lavish parties attended by people from all walks of life.
Nowadays, the Carnival is a time to have fun and to give up daily routine, at least for a while.
The first testimony of the Venetian Carnival dates back to 1094, when the term Carnival is used for the first time on a document issued by the Doge Vitale Falier. This ceremony, held annually, had a very specific purpose and stemmed from the need of the aristocrats to grant even the most humble social classes a period of celebrations and lightheartedness, away from the burden of poverty and hard work they had to face every day. Since masks and customs allowed anonymity, during carnival there was a substantial leveling of social divisions, ideally placing aristocracy and poverty on the same level. The iconic disguise of the Venetian carnival is the BAUTA, a costume worn by both men and women, that consists of the classic black TRICORNO hat on the head, a black cape called TABARRO and the LARVA, the famous totally white mask whose shape allowed to feast without never have to take it off.
Festa delle Marie history
A very important event during the Venice Carnival is “Festa delle Marie”, a ceremony dating back about 1000 years ago. At that time, it was part of the tradition to celebrate the marriage of 12 girls, chosen among the most beautiful and poorest in the city, with sumptuous ceremonies offered by patricians and the Doge himself. Over the centuries, this ceremony has undergone numerous reinterpretations until its representational form of the present days – a sort of beauty contest, where no actual marriage takes place.
Sunday, February 17 at 11:00: the 2019 Carnival festival will be opened by a water procession along the Grand Canal in Venice, starting from “Punta della Dogana” and ending in “Rio di Cannaregio”. On the way, numerous food-stalls will be offering a variety of famous Venetian drinks and sweets, such as Frittelle and Galani which are offered only in this time of the year.
Sunday, February 24: the Carnival celebrations will kick off officially with the “Volo dell’Angelo”, an exciting spectacle when a woman in traditional costume “flies” from the top of St. Mark’s bell tower to a stage on the opposite side of the square; this show takes place from 12 to 13 pm in St. Mark’s square. For more info:
· Saturday, February 23: twelve Venetian fascinating young girls will compete for the title of “Mary of the year” in the ceremony of “Festa delle Marie”. For more info: www.carnevale.venezia.it/en/festa-delle-marie-celbration-2018/ · Sunday, March 3: Compete and win as the most beautiful costume of the entire carnival! Make a show of your costume at “the most beautiful mask” parade in St. Mark’s Square. You can subscribe to the following link
At this stage, in order to win the contest, you only need a costume! If you don’t have your own ready, you may want to rent a costume, and for this there are several options in Venice: the major workshops crafting classic costumes, incredibly refined in every details, are Nicolao Atelier http://www.nicolao.com/en and Flavia Atelier https://www.veniceatelier.com/en/
If you instead are fancying just a mask – even though not an ordinary mask – you may drop a visit to Ca’Macana https://www.camacana.com/, where every mask is a work-of-art of its own. This workshop was also in charge of making the masks used for the movie Eyes wide shut by Stanley Kubrick .
If you liked the movie, or simply admired the settings, you may have noticed the Venetian mirror portrayed also on the movie poster … and if you wish, you are welcome to see it closely in our showrooms in Murano!
With the occasion, you may take a tour of our factory and showrooms, where you will be able to see the actual glass-making as well as the finished products, in an array of colors and splendor, celebrating the Carnival in their own way.