Cork News / Cultural facts about Italy

The Italian Carnival

February in Italy means: masks, confetti, colors and lights creating a unique atmosphere: it’s Carnival…and anything goes!

The Carnival tradition has ancient roots and today has become a folkloristic rite in which traditions and fun work together to bring enormous life to this unique celebration.

The costume is the leading role, for a few days per year everyone can disguise itself. The origins of Carnival date back to the Roman Saturnalia festival that rang in the new year (Julian calendar), similarly to the Lupercalia and Dionysian feasts.

The actual term carnevale derives from the Latin carnem levare for “take away the meat”. In Antiquity the term indicated the banquet held the last day before the period of abstinence from meat, i.e. the Christian Lent.

Carnival, according to the Roman Catholic Liturgical Calendar, is set for between Epiphany (January 6th) and the start of Lent.

Initially a feast characterized by unrestrained enjoyment of food, drink and sensual pleasures, and granted as a temporary escape for the lower classes – an opportunity to subvert norms, especially in the way of social order – through the arc of time Carnival spread throughout the world and took on ever-novel shades and nuances, mutating into a singular form of entertainment.

From North to South, Italy marks Carnival with long-standing traditions worldwide known attracting thousands of visitors from around the world this time every year.

Out of Curiosity

  • In Ivrea, 5,000 metric tons of oranges are launched during the typical Battle of the Oranges.
  • Putignano hosts the longest Carnival every year, beginning on December 26th and lasting for 48 days
  • The Carnival of Venice is one of the oldest (dating back to 1296) and hosts 150,000 tourists annually
  • The Carnival of Viareggio boasts the largest number of particiapnts:325,000in 2011 and it’s famous for its spectacular floats
  • In Acireale the carts are decorated with hundreds of thousands of flowers for each figure (and each cart may have more than one figure!)
  • The Carnival of Cento has a partnership with the Carnival of Rio since 1993
Tags: , ,

Comments are closed.