By Daniel Shafto
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Additional resources for Carnival (Holidays and Celebrations)
Since its reestablishment, it has gained recognition as a world-class festival. Today, Carnevale season offers the parades, musical performances, and theater shows for which it was once famous. The revival has also brought Venice’s legendary tradition of elegant and intricate masks and costumes back to life. Most people choose to dress up in traditional masks and costumes, such as the bauta, consisting of a long black robe, a tricornered hat, and a white mask that covers the entire face. This was a favorite during the heyday of the Venice Carnevale, because it guaranteed complete anonymity.
Europe 31; historians do not know the details of the game, it was most likely messy and unruly. The anonymity provided by masks and costumes played an important role in Carnevale, because they allowed Venice’s class structure to be upended. The early times of the Venice Carnevale planted some traditions that are still followed today. Common activities included various forms of street entertainment—such as feats of strength, acrobatics, puppet shows, juggling demonstrations, musical performances, and fireworks displays, all of which were usually controlled by the state.
Soon laws forbade citizens to wear masks at night, in holy places such as churches, in casinos, and at any time of year other than Carnevale. Lawmakers also banned wearing a mask with religious attire, and carrying weapons while wearing a mask or costume. By the 18th century, the Venice Carnevale had reached its peak. The number of restrictions continued to mount, and the city’s status continued to fall. In 1797, General Napoleon Bonaparte (later Napoleon I emperor of France), defeated the independent Venetian republic, and with it the glorious Carnevale.