Italian Carnival--or, as it's known there, Carnevale--is a tradition beloved by Italian families. It's an opportunity to have fun with friends and family while upholding the tradition that started in 1094. It's colorful, exciting, and while there are many variations of it, the Venetian Carnival is the most famous. However, instead of listing boring historical facts about this celebration, I have asked my Italian family to share some of their favorite Carnival memories.
I love Carnevale! I'm so sad that it's not celebrated in America. "I remember all the fun I had throwing confetti around in my fun and colorful costumes!" My school had Carnevale parties. We'd take the day off from learning and wear our costumes, eat frappe (a typical Carnevale sweet, kind of like a pastry,) throw confetti and streamers, and play games. I remember once, when I was in kindergarten, and I dressed as the Ice Witch from Narnia; I was upset because no one knew what my costume was. I also remember a lot of people in elementary school bringing in cans of washable hair dye spray and dyeing their hair on the spot. It was amusing to watch.
Monica, my mom:
When I was small, around 10 years old, I lived in a small neighborhood. We used to meet up during Carnevale and we'd compete against other neighborhoods. Every neighborhood would make themed masks and costumes, and usually, the guys would make the big carts and make characters with papier-mâché, while the girls would make the costumes. We'd make all the costumes by hand. First, we would sketch our design, then look for the fabric, and then sew them together. And then, before the end of Carnevalewe, we would do three fashion shows around all the neighborhoods, and the winner would get a prize. (Me: did you ever win?) Yes, a couple of times. After the fashion shows, we would eat all together, dance, and have a big party. It was lots of fun.
Flavio, my dad:
My first Carnevale costume was of Lafayette. I don't know why, but I associated it with the Aristocats since a character from the movie was named that. The costume actually looked like a pirate, with a sword and all that. It was only many years later that I realized he had fought in the American Revolution. With my children, I have quite a few. Tiziano, one of my sons, dressed up as the blue prince (principe azzurro--would probably be the equivalent of a knight in shining armor.) Also, Francesco's--my other son--birthday is around Carnevale, so we had lots of Carnevale-birthday parties. I remember a specific one in which he dressed up as a Yu-Gi-Oh character, and I was dressed up as a pirate. It was very fun!
And also in that time period (after the Lafayette costume) I also had my first Zorro costume. Though, it wasn't Carnevale. It was, like, Christmas, I think. I have many memories with my children from Carnevale, mostly connected to their Carnevale recitals. (Mom: recitals?) Yeah, when Francesco dressed up as a grasshopper! (Mom: that was for Christmas!) Oh.
(insert one of my brother's elementary school classmates’ name) was dressed up as a bee at Francesco's birthday party. (Me and my mom: what.)
Tiziano, the middle brother:
I remember how my school celebrated Carnevale when I was in elementary school. We would stop lectures, tests, exams, and whatnot for an entire day to enjoy a costume party with our classmates and friends. In 5th grade, I dressed up as Zorro, a famous hero (and an outlaw) from the Spanish television. He would fight crime with his sword and leave a signature, a Z, on the backs of his opponents. Every one of my peers brought typical carnival foods and desserts and shared them with the class. My favorite has always been the so-called “frappa”, which can be thought of as special cookie dough that is baked or fried and covered in chocolate or powdered sugar. We spent the entire day eating, throwing confetti at each other, playing foosball and making up stories with our characters. It truly was magical.
Francesco, the eldest brother:
I remember Carnevale as a child in Rome. My grandma used to make us costumes by hand for the first years of our life. I remember me being Zorro for one carnival and having a mask like in the Banderas movies. All the confetti on the floor made me think of the colorful water they created when it rained. The costume was perfect when I got out of the house but it got all ruined from running and sweating around at the end of the day. I used to think superheroes must have had a change of clothes during their patrols. (Aurora’s note: he wants me to make sure everyone knows that he dressed up as Zorro before Tiziano. Sibling rivalry, what can I say.)
So, Carnevale is a big Italian tradition that brings many happy memories to many Italian families. After reading, do you also wish America celebrated Carnival? Or, if your family celebrates a Carnival from a different country, how does it compare from what you have read today? I hope you have learned something from this and had some laughs. Happy Carnival, everyone!