Carnevale, Carnival, or Mardi Gras which is it? Actually they are all the same celebration! That 2 week period that ends on Shrove Tuesday aka Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday which is the first day of Lent for Christians.
In New Orleans and in many cities in the US it’s called Mardi Gras. In other parts of the world it’s known as Carnival or Carnevale. It is the Carnival season that actually starts on Epiphany, which Christians celebrate on January 6. The season culminates on Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday.
Mardi Gras is Fat Tuesday in French. It’s called that because traditionally it is the last day before Lent when one can indulge in foods such as butter, eggs, and sugar. For many Christians Lent, the 40 days before Easter, is a time of fasting and abstinence.
In Italy the Carnival season is known as Carnevale. It is celebrated in many towns and cities through out the country, but the most elaborate celebration is held in Venice, the Carnevale Di Venezia. It’s known for it’s fancy masks and costumes as well as the events held during the season.
It is said that the Carnevale Di Venezia was started in 1162 to celebrate a victory of the Venice Republic. People gathered to dance in San Marco Square.
It reached is height during the Renaissance when it became official. It was a popular celebration during the 17th. and 18th. Centuries. However under the rule of the Holy Roman Emperor it was outlawed in 1797 and masks were strictly forbidden. The modern day Carnevale was restarted in 1979 when the Italian government decided to revive Venetian culture. Since then it has become an annual event attended by over 3 million visitors.
In Venice Carnevale starts about 10 days before Fat Tuesday. It is celebrated with parades both on land and in the waterways, masquerade balls and parties, fireworks, and circus or carnival games and rides.
During Carnevale Piazza San Marco is transformed into an entertainment center where you’ll find games and shows. There are many events held during the season including a children’s Carnevale, mask making classes, gondola and boat parades, mask contests, and balls.
Most of the large hotels host a Masquerade Ball or Party but the official ball is the very pricey Ca’ Vendramin Official Carnival Ball. Tickets sell for €500 each.
But really the fun of Carnevale is people watching. You’ll see many revelers dressed in elaborate costumes with beautiful masks.
But not all are dressed in beautiful Renaissance costumes. The kids love the super hero costumes and even the Kinder Egg.