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The history of carnival


Carnival is connected to Easter, which always occurs on the Sunday following the first full moon after the 21st of March. Before Easter there is Lent which lasts five weeks and the week before Ash Wednesday is usually considered Carnival’s last week.! According to the calendar, in Italy , the three important dates are : Shrove Thursday, Carnival Sunday and Shrove Tuesday. But there are celebrations on other days of the week. The term "carnival" is related to Lent, in fact, during this period there is a ban on eating meat and "carnival" comes from the Latin "carnem levare" or "remove the meat" diet!


The protagonists of Carnival have always been the most popular classic masks. It seems that the earliest of these is Arlecchino, native of Bergamo. In the sixteenth century the mask Pantalone came from Venice and from Naples Pulcinella, followed by Dottor Balanzone from Bologna.

Other famous personalities of the Italian Carnival come from Firenze (Stenterello) from Bergamo (Brighella) and from Venezia the most famous female character that is Columbine


The origins of carnival date back to the Roman festival of Saturnalia (in honor of the god Saturn) and the Lupercalia (in honor of God Fauno, a holiday celebrated in the month of February).

The first documents of Carnival date to the Middle Age (8th century) and refer of fests with dissoute enjoyment of food, drinks and sensual pleasure. The social order is reversed, usual roles were exchanged, the old identities were hidden by masks


Saturnalia Fest During Saturnalia people must enjoy to propitiate a good harvest, prosperity and happiness. During seven days festive floats were leaded to the city and people of different social classes gathered to eat big amount of food,

The king of the Saturnalia was originally a man who was sacrificed for the good of the community, then was replaced by a straw puppet. On Shrove Tuesday he was burned as a sacrifice and he dying cleansed the community.


Carnival has its roots in ancient pagan rituals with strong symbolic values ​related to the agricultural and pastoral life, as it celebrated the end of the old year and the beginning of the new one. Through a special masked ceremony, people greeted the end of winter and hallowed the arrival of spring.


In the Middle Ages, Carnival became basically a rite of purification, as proved by the main stage of the festival: the funeral of King Carnival, but this does not miss the research of material pleasures.


During the 15th century, Carnival become an occasion to practice the inversion of social jerarchy, so that poor people could mix themseves with nobles and viceversa thanks to disguise.


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People celebrate Carn ival on the streets and at home, on the squares, in the disco or at school. Carnival drives happin es, confusion, movemen t, colors and sweet everywhere


Nowadays Carnival is especially dedicated to children. During the floats parade people throw confetti and candy which everybody can collect and eat. Lots of people wear original masks or disguise themselves with very expensive clothes made for Carnival


History of carnival