Live your own tale!
Live your own tale!

The Venice Carnival began in 1162 to commemorate the victory of the Venice Republic over its adversary, the Patriarch of Aquileia.

Venetians gathered in Saint Mark's Square to dance and celebrate their victory.

As time passed, the Carnival came to be celebrated for its own sake, and most revelers had no idea how it began.

Venice embraced traditional Greek and Roman holidays to satisfy the aspirations of the Venetian Republic, which pushed the Carnival to provide a time of joy and celebration for the people, especially the poorer classes.

Venice Carnival | During the centuries

The Venice Carnival became a tradition in the seventeenth century.

The famed Carnival event in Venice at the period gained international recognition: the effervescent and transgressive attitude, the comedy, masks, magnificent shows, and the public gambling house made Venice "Europe's magnet."

The intent of the Carnival in Venice, the origins and meaning of the festival, an opportunity to vent tensions and discontent, soon had the opposite effect: the ability to completely conceal one's identity in traditional Venice Carnival costumes and fancy masks became the perfect place for theft and harassment of various kinds.

These huge excesses caused the Venetian Republic to enact a series of restrictions prohibiting the misuse and fraudulent use of masks and costumes in Venice, measures that gradually eroded the essential core of Venice's Carnival and the beginnings of freedom.

Venice Carnival | The masks

Masks have always been an essential component of the Venetian Carnival, started as a time for celebration, where all social classes would mingle. Wearing a mask offered a possibility to remain anonymous, enjoying the advantages that such condition brought with it.

In a society where social classes were very well defined and not intended to interact with each other; wearing a mask allowed to hide any form of identification based on origin, age, gender or religion.

In 1436, the masters of the Guild of Decorators in Venice re-organised the mask making industry. It proposed a number of rules that were ratified by the Giustizieri Vecchi; the magistrates responsible at the time, for vigilance of the arts and crafts. This was when the Venetian profession of “ maschereri ” or “ mascareri ” (mask makers), was officially recognised with its own guild and statutes.

The Venice Carnival masks gave complete anonymity, a type of social leveling that permitted citizens to publicly criticize authority and nobility on occasion.

These permissive permits provided an outlet for societal tensions and ill will caused by the Republic of Venice's severe moral and public order constraints.

Venice Carnival | Today

Only in 1967 were the first celebrations reconstructed with parades of masks and costumes, reviving customs and the history of the Venice Carnival.

For the first time, in 1979, a program to involve Venetians in Venetian festivities was devised in order to return the Carnival of Venice to its beginnings. An the new formula is a complete success story.