Carnival in Venice Italy
CARNIVAL IN VENICE ITALY -THE MASK BEHIND THE MASK
The Carnival started as a tradition of the noble people to hide behind masks and costumes to mix with the commoners of Venice and dance around the San Marco square.
It is believed that the celebrations at San Marco square, started as Venice became a republic “Serenissima Repubblica di Venezia”.
Most of the costumes are part of the fashion trends of the XVIII century, as this was the time when the carnival reached its maximum splendor.
When Napoleon Bonaparte invaded Venice by the end of 1796, the carnival celebrations were forbidden as a measure to prevent conspiracies against him.
Only until 1979 the carnival festivities were reestablished
Despite this being an event where thousands of tourists attend to every year, the best parties and masquerades are private and limited to locals by invitation only.
Some cost as much as 2000 euros per person to enter or even more in some cases.
There is little evidence explaining the motive for the earliest mask wearing in Venice. One scholar argues that covering the face in public was a uniquely Venetian response to one of the most rigid class hierarchies in European history. During Carnival, the sumptuary laws were suspended, and people could dress as they liked, instead of according to the rules that were set down in law for their profession and social class.
The first documented sources mentioning the use of masks in Venice can be found as far back as the 13th century. Gambling in public was normally illegal, except during Carnival. The document decrees that masked persons were forbidden to gamble. Another law in 1339 forbade Venetians from wearing vulgar disguises and visiting convents while masked. The law also prohibited painting one's face, or wearing false beards or wigs.
Near the end of the Republic, the wearing of the masks in daily life was severely restricted. By the 18th century, it was limited only to about three months from December 26. The masks were traditionally worn with decorative beads matching in colour.
Today the Carnival in venice takes place in February