The Culture of the Venice Carnival
The Venice Carnival first started in the 14th century. The word carnival, in Italian carnevale, Latin meaning means to take away or remove meat. Carnival takes place just before Lent, the forty days that mark a season of sorrowful reflection, fasting and abstinence from fruit, eggs, meat, and dairy products. Carnival has so many different meaning for not only the Venetian people but to people all over the world. There are different variations of carnival all around the world. The history of carnival is deep and spreads through each generation differently but it is something that needs to be looked into with more depth and explored. Originally the Venice Carnival was a two month long period of feasting before the rigors of Lent, by the 18th century the Venetian Carnival season began in October and lasted five months. During this time of partying, people of all social classes mingled and cavorted, their identities hidden behind all manner of masks, By the end of the century, Carnival had become so important that the death of Doge Paolo Renier, a Venetian statesman, the 119th, and penultimate, Doge of Venice, on February 13, 1789 was concealed from the public so as not to disturb the merrymaking. Carnival is the link between the theatricalization of Venice on the streets and the management of her mythology on the stage. On the most basic level, carnival provided an opportunity for a Christian society to explore precisely those pleasures that would be forbidden during Lent, albeit with links to pagan traditions. Sobriety, self-denial, and abstinence-behaviors deemed necessary for the contemplation of Christ’s own sacrifice- were this preface by a period of unmitigated leisure, excess, and carnality. Carnival was the time in which all officially sanctioned rules could be overturned. Sacred and secular rituals could be parodied; the low could imitate the high, and the high took the opportunity to mingle with the low. Varieties of...
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