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6 Things That Maybe You Don't Know About Carnival in Italy

Confetti, streamers, masks, jokes, sweets: carnival is the funniest celebration in Italy for kids and adults!
Usually, Carnival in Italy is associated with the famous Venice Carnival with its extravagant masks and decadent parties.
Actually, tons of celebrations occur all over the peninsula, with flavors varying city by city.
Discover six things that maybe you don't know about this celebration in this post.

1. The Origins of Carnival

The origins of carnival are still debated today: some say that the celebration has its roots in the Roman Saturnalia - pagan celebrations of Ancient Rome.

During these celebrations, the social roles between poor and rich were reversed, and masks were worn to avoid being recognized.

As for the origin of the word "carnevale," it is also not sure.

It is believed that the word comes from the Latin "carnem levare" - literally "remove the flesh"- which refers to the last banquet on Shrove Tuesday held before entering Lent.

2. What is the origin of "Chiacchiere"?

The origin of chiacchiere dates back to Roman times when, during the celebration of Saturnalia, Roman women used to make "frictilia." They were sweets based on eggs and flour and fried in pork fat.

The tradition of frictilia has survived until today, making only small changes to the basic recipe according to the various regional traditions.

Chiacchiere Sweets

The legend about the name "chiacchiere" came from the Queen of Savoy who, while she was chatting with her guests, asked the court cook, Raffaele Esposito, to prepare a dessert that could cheer her and her guests. He took inspiration from that "chat" (small talk) and gave them the name of "chiacchiere."

3. What is the longest Carnival in Italy?

In Italy, each city celebrates its own Carnival.

The most famous for its length is the Carnival of Putignano in Puglia, which begins in Santo Stefano (December 26) and ends on Ash Wednesday (the first day of Lent).

Putignano Carnival is famous for its parades of papier-mache floats (in Italian carri allegorici) representing the world of politics, culture, or society.

Allegoric Float in Putignano - Credit Carnevale di Putigliano Foundation

Since the 2013 edition, the Carnival Foundation has imposed on artisans and papier-mache masters to create allegorical floats with a common theme. For the 2022 edition, the theme is "The Earth seen from the Carnival."

Due to the Covid 19, the parade will take place in Summer 2022.

4. What are the most famous carnivals in Italy?

Certainly, the Carnival of Venice is the most famous carnival in Italy.

Among the other Italian carnivals that have national and international fame there are: the Ambrosian Carnival of Milan, the Carnival of Fano, the Carnival of Viareggio known for its allegorical floats, the Historical Carnival of Ivrea during which the Battle of the Oranges, the Carnival of Ascoli Piceno and the Carnival of Putignano in Puglia.

Orange Battle Ivrea - Credit The Historic Carnival of Ivrea Foundation

5. What are the origins of coriandoli?

Coriandoli (confetti) are small scraps of colored paper, and they are essential part of the carnival. Their origins date back to the late 1800s and were invented by two Italian engineers: Enrico Mangili and Ettore Fenderl.

In most languages ​​(including English, German, French, Dutch, Swedish, and Spanish), even non-Indo-European

languages, the word "confetti" refers to "coriandoli."

The confusion between the two names originates in the Renaissance, when in Italy, at weddings or during the carnival, it was customary to throw sugared almonds, sometimes made of the seeds of the coriander (coriandolo) plant. These seeds, covered with sugar and being consumed as sweets, were also thrown on people during carnival celebrations.

6. "Ti conosco mascherina"

This expression which literally translates as "I know you, masked one!" is addressed to a person you recognize despite being in disguise.

It derives from the Carnival celebrations when the population could disguise themselves as a noble for a few days, overturning the power relations in the cities!


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