Where Are Your Carnevale Masks?

Hey, guys, where are your masks?

For Carnevale, it has been tradition for centuries to dress in costume in order to hide one’s identity.

… Let’s start from the beginning. So, “carne” means meat, but really, it means flesh. In this case, flesh is for body. In pre-Christian times, this period of CARNE-vale, before the arduous spring planting season, was a “planting season” of sorts itself (wink wink), when folks enjoyed each other’s flesh with orgiastic gatherings in the countryside. And part of the fun was not knowing with whom.

Remember Acireale, which is in the middle of Etna’s wine region, celebrated its patron, San Sebastiano, a couple of weeks ago? A local intellectual explained to me last year during Acireale’s Carnevale that the rites and rituals related to Saint Sebastian are descendents of those from the regional ancient cult of Dionysus, the god of wine and ecstacy. During those rites of Dionysus, masks enabled participants to enjoy each other’s flesh, free from acceptable societal expectations.

Acireale, Sicily’s Carnevale celebration is rooted in centuries of such traditions.

Thanks to You, Me & Sicily’s Eszter Vajda and Alfred Zappala for hosting Steve, me, and Curtis last year!

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