In 1094 Doge Vitale Falier was in power in Venice. In this year the first edition of the Carnival of Venice began unconsciously, as a public celebration to honor the days preceding Lent. Everything is reported in an official document so that the tradition could be followed. But it took long time before the Venice Carnival became a proper festival, ending the day before Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent.
Once the Carnival began the first Sunday of October, grew with Epiphany and ended with a grand celebration in the day preceding Lent (Shrove Tuesday); its atmosphere was different as the festival was much longer and more intense.
Nowadays the Carnival lasts about ten days, still in the pre-Easter period but the expectation and excitement for Carnival is always present throughout the year.
Carnival at that time was an opportunity to break down all social differences and get everyone on the same level, it was the time to forget life problems and frustrations enjoying this popular festival all together. The mask was a symbol of the game but also of equality: as people could hide behind it all their shame. Wearing masks and costumes people could completely hide their identity therefore eliminating all forms of personnel belonging to social class, gender, religion. Anyone could become what he wanted, he could have attitudes and behaviors according to his custom and to his changed appearance. For this reason, it was customary to greet the masks with a “Hello madame mask”!
The joyful participation in disguise was and still is, the Carnival essence. A period of light-heartedness and freedom from the daily routine and from the prejudices and slanders. It was all part of a masked big stage, where actors and spectators were merged into a unique and immense procession of figures and colors.
The custom of dressing up was becoming more and more popular in Venice, so a real trade in masks and costumes grew from nothing to a profitable business..
There were many parties with tumblers, jugglers and acrobats. The tributes to the protagonists of Venetian history were great, especially to Marco Polo, the Carnival took every opportunity to remind his journeys.
The Carnival in Venice has accompanied every moment of history: in the nineteenth century Venice and its Carnival become a destination for artists and celebrities from around the world. After the fall of the Venice Republic Carnival underwent a sharp break due to the French and Austrian domination. In this sad period the Carnival continued only in the island of Burano and Murano, home to Venetian artists.
Carnival resurrected in 1979 when a group of citizens from civic associations helped to create the new edition of the Venice Carnival, a festival lasting eleven days, full of joy and happiness to celebrate this anniversary, so dear to the Venetian people.