Rio de Janeiro and Venice Carnivals

Rio de Janeiro – 2nd March to 9th March

The History of Carnival in Brazil

The Brazilian Carnival is an annual festival held between the Friday before Ash Wednesday and Ash Wednesday at noon which means the beginning of Lent, the forty-day period before Easter. This celebration was a pagan festival in honor of the gods the early 15th century. Now, is considered as one of the biggest parties in the world.

The carnival is supposedly inspired from the Portuguese celebration ‘Entrudo’ which means “entrance” to Lent,. A sophisticated way of celebrating the Carnival was brought by the Portuguese royal family who moved to Rio de Janeiro and consisted with fancy balls and elaborate costumes and masks.

This celebration was for the rich people, who could afford expensive costumes and masks. Poor people started to organized their own parades and in the beginning of the 20th century the “Entrudo” died and give away the Carnival celebration in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo.

However, the Brazilian carnival apart from having influences from Portuguese culture, also has a little bit of African culture since the Portuguese brought with them many Africans to Brazil as workers and slaves, which is the reason for the distinctive nature of the Rio Carnival. The African slaves took along with them the culture and the practice of paying homage to the gods through elaborate masks and costumes. Also, they used bones, grass, feathers or wood in supplication or to fight against evil spirits. Therefore, this is the reason why the modern Rio Carnival possesses that rustic and earthy character.

Venice – 16th February to 5th March

The History of Carnival in Venice

The Venice Carnival is an annual festival held two weeks before Ash Wednesday and ends with the Christian celebration of Lent, on shrove Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday in Venice, Italy.

The Carnival started as a celebration of the victory of Republic of Venice against Ulrico, Patriarch of Aquileia and became an annual event until it was banned by the King of Austria in 1797 and the use of mask was completely forbidden. After long absence the Carnival was again re-established in 1979 and until our days is being annually celebration and with it the development of masks. One of the most important events is the contest for la maschera più bella (“the most beautiful mask”) which is judge by a panel of international costume and fashion designers.

During the Carnival, the sumptuary laws were suspended, and people could dress as they liked, instead of according to the rules that were set down. One of the traditions was the “ovi odoriferi” where eggshells were usually filled with rose water perfume and tossed by young men at their friend or woman they admired. However, back in 1268, the Great Council made it a crime for people to be masked. A law was passed to ban for all things putting on mask and throwing perfumed eggs, because in some cases the eggs were filled with ink or other damaging substances.

Nowadays, the Venice Carnival is one of the biggest celebrations in Italy, with costumes, events and parties over the 10 days. The characteristic that defines the Carnival of Venice however, are the masks. There are several distinct styles of mask in the Venice Carnival, some with identifying names and with different masks signifying different occupations.

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