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Venice Carnival History

The Venice Carnival is the most famous festival celebrated in Venice, Italy, and also one of the oldest. This worldwide carnival is marked by a congregation of people in multihued costumes, bizarre masks and music and dance. The history of the Venice Carnival may tell us more than one story of the origin of the Carnival, but the theme had always been unrestrained gaiety in the garb of anonymity.


History of the Venice Carnival


While some chronicle the origins of the Venice Carnival as a celebration which marked the transition from winter to spring, still other sources suggest the first celebration akin to a carnival took place in years subsequent to 1162 when Vitale Michiel II overthrew Ulrico in Aquileia. However, 1296 is unanimously held as the year of the first Carnival celebration, when the Senate of the Republic authorized it as such. Then the Venice Carnival was held on the day before the beginning of lent.

The History of the Venice Carnival can be followed from the 12th to the early 14th century. In order to curb the moral decline of the Venetians new laws were enacted by Serenissima that forbade the masqueraders from strolling late night in the streets. In the later period, princes from the entire Europe came to enjoy the wild revels while indulging in extravagances during these carnivals.

The history of the Venice Carnival shows us that during the partying and merriments numerous possibilities for spending money were available to the participants. The choices were diverse, with activities such as gambling dens, brothels, theatres, caf├ęs, wine shops (licensed as well as illicit) and restaurants, and the booths where one could spot exotic animals, ropewalkers and jugglers. As the carnival gained acceptance, more and people started taking part in the carnival with masks on their faces. It was actually difficult to make a distinction between nobles and the commoners since almost everybody had masks on their visages.

History of Venice Carnival, Italy also reveals that the guests of the Venice carnival were entertained in the squares by street-artists and singers with mellifluous songs and mesmerizing music. Till 1797, the carnival in Venice continued with minor interruptions. The one-day celebration turned into an affair of more days and coincided with the opening of theaters in October. The Venice Carnival was a time of unique advantage when the aristocracy mingled undetected with the plebs. It was a time of fun, fiesta and at times unwarranted wild behavior. One such incident sparked the end of Carnival in 1797, when revelers tried to pull down preaching pulpits which were being built for the purpose of Lent.

The tradition of revelry was revived in the 1970s. The Venice Carnival is a major crowd-puller, and a time when the city coffers are overflowing with tourism turnouts. Each and every year the festival is celebrated with a distinct theme, which is borrowed from various points of view that may range from culture to that of pure spectacle. St. Marks' Square, the theaters, streets, squares and public buildings turn into the protagonists of plentiful initiatives and shows: actors, acrobats, dancers and musicians bring a festive spirit to the town for some days, which is parallel to that of the XVII century.

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