Cannoli are a traditional food of Carnevale, or Carnival, which is celebrated with gusto over the next few days in the Sicilian town of Acireale. A blend of history, satire, dance, music, and masques and costumes, Acireale’s Carnevale is known for being one of the most animated, boisterous, and prodigious in Italy. Children of all ages participate in the modern festival, which is based on ancient customs of “letting it all hang loose” before the start of Lent on Ash Wednesday. (The shape of Cannoli, eaten as a sweet street-food for centuries before ice cream existed, is symbolic of the “freedom of the flesh” and fertility rites that were practiced since pre-Christian times.) Although today’s celebration is tamer than centuries ago, the modernized spectacle that the citizens of Acireale produce is marvelous: coupled with food, music, dance, and masquerade parades that occur through the town, grand, fantastic floats and huge, multicolored puppets augmented with hydraulics, lights, and super-theatrical presentations make for a dazzling party. Experience Sicily’s Evelina Rubino is planning to go this weekend. I hope to post some photos for you so we both can see just how amazing it is!
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I never thought of Italy as having a Carnaval like Mardi Gras in New Orleans and the madness in Rio before Lent begins. And haven’t ever looked at cannoli in the way I did today – “freedom the flesh.” Once again, a celebration based on the fertility of women! Go, Sicily! Can’t wait to see the report from your friend Evelina! <3
Yes, many pastries, Cannoli included, symbolize something…