Intrigued by the Venice Carnival in Italy? Find out about the origins of this whacky festival and the way it used to be celebrated as we compare that to the modern celebrations of the event.
The Venice Carnival is probably the most well known festival celebrated in Italy. The history of the Italian Venice Carnival dates back to ancient times and it seems to be one of the oldest festivals being practiced in the country with records showing it had its origins in the 14th century. So what is this festival all about? Basically you will find people to be wearing masks to hide their identities during the carnival. Due to the intricacy involved with the concealment of one’s identity it was not allowed for the public to walk around wearing masks during the night.
The Venice Carnival grew in popularity and started to attract a lot of wealthy people from the rest of Europe. As a result Venice experienced an influx of seasonal visitors that included princes who found the Venice carnival as an ideal way to blow their money on frivolous things. The Venice Carnival opened the door ways to all kinds of activities which included rare opportunities to see exotic animals, rope walkers and jugglers. The Venice Carnival also developed an identity for promoting all sorts of vulgar and immoral activities during the festive season and this acted as a huge attraction for the rich around Europe.
Ambiance of Venice Carnival
For a first timer the ambiance of Venice during the carnival would seem freaky and out of this world. With the streets full of people wearing masks it was impossible to differentiate between the rich and poor, the nobility and the common man. Traditionally everyone would have a similar costume which was a long cloak and a long nosed mask. There were certain masks designed for couples that would feature the man and women dressed up as allegorical characters. The city squares were full of all sorts of entertainers ranging from musicians, to street theatre artists, freak shows and magicians. They sought to entertain the passerby during the time of the Carnival.
Decline of the Carnival
The popularity of the carnival declined over a period of years because it started to harbor a lot of ills for the society. As if the immorality stemming from the event was not enough damage to a sophisticated society there were certain masked gangs that were involved in the destruction of preaching pulpits under construction for the Lent season ahead. Some changes in the law were also made regarding the wearing of the masks during the festivals. A specific timeline was devised during which people were free to wear the masks whereas it was forbidden to do so on some days.
The Venice Carnival that you see today is a massively downsized version of what the event traditionally used to be like. A series of unfortunate events led to the downfall of the carnival and now it is more like a show put up for the tourists roaming the city. Many of the Italian traditions have now become only for the purpose of show just for the foreign tourists roaming the country. Nonetheless the Italian Venice Carnival still seems to attract a large number of people to the wonderful city on the water ways.