The floods of a few months ago and consequent damages have not had any effects on the most romantic and one of the most artistic carnivals in the world, Venice Carnival.
Venice Carnival events will start on 8 February 2020 and end on 25 February, as scheduled.
You can see the details, all dates, photos and descriptions of events on the Venice Carnival 2020 page.
What is Carnival
Carnival is a period of the year celebrated all over Italy with popular festivals. The English term “Carnival”, with its generic meaning of crowd party regardless of the time of year, derives from the Italian word.
The origins of Carnival go back to ancient Rome and the Latin celebrations of the Saturnalia, pagan public festivals characterised by excess and licentiousness.
After the spectacular rise of Christianity Carnival took their place, and even in Rome itself, the capital of Christianity, the largest traditional public festival was the Roman Carnival.
In fact Carnival is celebrated in the countries of what used to be called Christendom, and particularly in Catholic countries.
The period of Carnival varies each year, because it depends on Easter Sunday, which is a moveable feast.
Carnival must end on Shrove Tuesday, the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of Lent.
The name “Carnevale” (Italian for Carnival) stems from the Latin “Carnem levare”, namely “removing meat, renouncing meat”, or also “Carnem vale”, meaning “farewell, meat”. It refers to the anticipation of the fasting days of Lent and to the banquet on the “Fat Tuesday” that preceded Ash Wednesday.
Among the Christian nations, especially in the Middle Ages, Lent was a period of very strict fasting and extraordinary penances, and Carnival was celebrated in the three days preceding Ash Wednesday, dedicated to eating, drinking and dancing.
The Carnival of Venice
The first historic chronicles of Venice Carnival as public celebrations preceding the period of Lent date back to 1094, under the Doge Vitale Falier.
But the first official document is an edict of 1296, in which the Senate of the Republic of Venice, the Serenissima Repubblica di San Marco, declares the last day before Lent as a public holiday.
At this time, and for many centuries that follow, the Carnival lasts six weeks, from December 26th to Ash Wednesday, although the celebrations sometimes begin as early as the first days of October.
Stages are built in the main places of the city, where jugglers, acrobats, itinerant musicians perform, while street vendors offer dried fruit, chestnuts, pancakes and sweets of all types.
The people’s Carnival is soon joined by a Carnival of the wealthy, which takes place, with masked balls and fancy-dress parties, in Venice’s most beautiful buildings. But there are also moments when noblemen and commoners celebrate together, like the Festa delle Marie and the Flight of the Angel, events which are still going on after all these centuries.
Some Carnivals have gone down in history. Greatest of all, that of 1571, the year of the glorious naval victory in the Battle of Lepanto, the mother of all battles of and for Europe, the unique event that allowed Europe to remain Europe and determined its cultural order thereafter. Without it, the continent would have succumbed to the Turks of the Islamic Ottoman Empire.
Not only Europe remained Christian, but Lepanto also meant the beginning of the retreat of Islam’s aggressive wars of conquest against Europe (until recent times, of course, albeit in a different form).
After that battle, both Spain and Venice could resume their maritime traffic, while France and the northern Lutheran and Calvinist princes, who could not have stopped the advance of the Ottoman invasion, were able to continue prospering in the next centuries.
Th whole history of Europe was changed beyond imagination by the naval Battle of Lepanto, won on 7th October 1571 by the Holy League, an alliance of the fleets of many Italian states including Venice, Genoa, and the Vatican State, under Venice’s command.
In 1571, Venice Carnival staged a parade of allegorical floats. They depicted the three Theological Virtues, that had inspired the Holy League: Christian Faith, in the act of crushing under her foot a chained dragon, allegory of the defeated enemy; Hope; and Charity. They were followed by Victory, dressed in red velvet, holding three laurel wreaths and a palm frond, symbol of the victory achieved by the faithful with virtue or martyrdom and therefore symbol of the eternal reward thus deserved. The procession was closed by Father Time and by Death armed with a scythe, who had also emerged victorious from the conflict.