Monday, 04 February 2013 14:58

Venice Carnival History



The Carnival of Venice is one of the most famous and ancient in the world. First documents about the Carnival are dating back to 1094, while in 1296 the holiday was officially established by a law of the Senate of the Republic of Venice.


It takes place every year two weeks before Ash Wednesday and ends on Fat Tuesday (Martedì Grasso in Italian, Shrove Tuesday in the English tradition or Mardi Gras in French).  


The celebration has a religious origin. The name Carnevale derives from the latin words carnem vale, farewell to meat, referring to the catholic prohibition of eating meat during the Lent period before Easter, which begins the day after the Fat Tuesday. 


In the ancient times the Carnival had a profound social importance. The habit of wearing masks was a powerful way to obliterate social differences between people, to allow a freedom of expression not possible during normal time and to engage in celebrations and recreations that alleviated the suffering of the people of the lower class.


During the 18th Century the Carnival reached the highest popularity and was attracting visitors from every European countries, coming to Venice to enjoy the atmosphere, the spectacles and the lavish and often luxurious parties of the aristocratic families.


Venice Carnival - A Masked Ball


The Carnival festivities were banned by Napoleon during the occupation of Venice started in 1797. After this period the celebrations continued only inside private homes and was not until the 1970s that the Municipality of Venice decided to restore the events in public places.


Nowadays during the Carnevale huge crowds convene to Venice: people wear masks and costumes like in the ancient times and many events take place in Piazza San Marco (Saint Mark’s square) and around the city. Particularly notable are the typical celebrations of the Festa delle Marie (Celebration of the Marys) and Volo dell’angelo (Angel’s flight). The Carnival is also time for some typical sweets that are made only in this time of the year: frittelle and galani. 



Read more about 2012 Carnival celebrations 








Venice, the Carnival














Leave a comment

Make sure you enter the (*) required information where indicated. HTML code is not allowed.