It's time to celebrate, because today begins... the Venice Carnival!
Those who have been lucky enough to experience it at least once in their life, perhaps managing to avoid the busiest times, have had a unique and unforgettable experience: made up of ancient festivals and traditions, delicious pancakes, chatter and castagnole, dances and shows of varied art, fantastic processions on land and water. An intoxication with the art of comedy, all amidst majestic masks and lush costumes that animate the narrow streets and fields of the city for 18 incredible days.
But who really knows where this celebration, which is still so heartfelt and rooted today, originates?
Venice is one of the oldest carnivals in the world, so much so that the first document mentioning the use of disguises can be traced back to 1094. Over the centuries, more and more schools and artisan workshops specialized in the study and creation of these jewels of stylistic art.
The origin of the word Carnival comes from the Latin "carnem levare" (i.e. depriving oneself of meat), and refers to Ash Wednesday, the last day of Carnival and the first of Lent: according to tradition from this moment, in preparation for Easter, no it is more permissible to eat meat.
But before deprivation, in Venice let everything be abundant, let all sadness be banished and let every joke be worth it!
Every form of deception and pretense was allowed, so much so that anyone could disguise themselves and be admitted into the presence of nothing less than the Doge; rich and poor, women and men of any social class, culture, religion or origin.
The Venetians took such a liking to it that the custom of wearing a mask, thus being unrecognizable, often extended beyond the Carnival period.
For this reason the government had to intervene several times to review the legislation, despite "Good morning Siora Maschera" being a now popular greeting for canals and streets invaded by Baute and Morette, all intoxicated by that absolute freedom conferred by the absence of identity.
Once the Serenissima fell, Carnival also officially fell with it: it was better to avoid occasions of rebellion, and this was true for Napoleon, the Austrians and the Savoys.
The tradition was preserved in Murano and Burano in a minor tone.
Until, on the initiative of some associations and private citizens, relatively recently - in 1979 - the party par excellence returned to shine, halved in duration, but doubled in celebrity.
Viva dunque il Carnevale,
che diletti ci suol dar.
Carneval che tanto vale,
che fa i cuori giubilar!