Tuesday, February 9, 2016 is Carnevale! Carnevale is an ancient celebration that goes back to the Middle Ages.  Of course, I’m a fave of the Italian version. But no matter the country, if you’re reading this post? Your job is to find a way to party today, part time, all day or tonight. It could be as simple as special food or…a treat for home or office.

Carnevale is Italian for carnival. The literal translation is “no meat” and Carnevale is celebrated the day before Ash Wednesday ( no meat day) which begins the six weeks of Lent that many Christian churches observe.

The Carnival of Venice is an annual festival held in Venice, Italy just before Lent. The event is world famous for its elaborate masks. Millions of people travel to Venice to party- in the same way they head to the parades of New Orleans.Carnevale

Masks have always been integral to carnival celebrations- falling in and out of favor over time. The Italian government brought back the event in the late 1900s and it continues today –an extravagant contest for the most beautiful mask is judged by an international panel of costume and fashion designers.

There are very specific types of masks worn at the Venice Carnival. At one time it was thought that wearing masks “was a uniquely Venetian response to one of the most rigid class hierarchies in European history.” Details about the types of masks are fascinating.

In the US, Mardi Gras was first celebrated in 1703, sixty miles south of New Orleans and inspired by French-Canadian explorer Jean Baptiste Le Moyne Sieur de Bienville. By the 1830s, the celebration had grown to include street fairs, elaborate floats, parades, and elegant costume balls. Crazy masks!

The “Fat” Tuesday just before Ash Wednesday is called “Fat” because in most traditions, all the good (fattening) stuff in the house like butter (fat) and sugar was eaten before Lent and not again until Easter, forty days later. Did you know that the official Mardi Gras colors of purple, green and gold are were chosen in 1872? Purple for justice. Green for faith and gold for power.Carnival

And what would Mardi Gras be without New Orleans style jazz? I’m crazy about it. I only wish I had a marching band rendition to share. Here’s the Tailgate Ramble by the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. And, a recent Gulf Aid protest song put together by Preservation Hall and some friends you may recognize. Got to love the gathering- It Ain’t My Fault. And a triple play in honor of Carnevale- Erykah Badu’s Jazzy Tribute to New Orleans

Paola’s rose pillows are still on sale for a shockingly lower price than usual…you can still get them for Valentine’s Day, but this is the LAST day to order!

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