Buon Martedì Grasso! Happy Fat Tuesday! Today marks the final day and pinnacle of Carnevale, a topsy-turvy, days-long party of letting go, hidden identity, and mischief that has been celebrated since ancient times. Today’s Carnevale is observed similarly to our American Halloween–children dress in costumes that they plan for weeks and adults attend parties during which they don costumes of all sorts and eat and drink with merriment and abandon (Think Mardi Gras in New Orleans.). To give you an idea of the mischief, after spending days at Carnevale in 2017 in Acireale among the cheeky floats and hundreds of people, I found confetti in my shoes, bags, and clothes for the rest of the year. You can be showered with the stuff in an instant by a naughty, masked party-goer and lose all sense of where you are! And that’s part of the fun.
Masques and costumes are an important part of Carnevale. Observers wear masques to hide their identities. There are a couple of reasons why. One is so revelers can perform sly behavior such as blasting someone with confetti! In the past however, masques allowed one to travel in different circles. Upper class masters could party among their servants. And servants could travel among the upper classes, because when fully covered, no one knew who was who. Roles could be reversed and a sense of freedom was granted and not questioned. With such liberty, one could behave in offbeat ways and/or escape with a clandestine lover away from the crowds.
Carnevale isn’t just a time of eating meat (and everything else) before the meatless period of Lent (A Christian tradition). Carnevale is also the time–marking spring’s arrival–when revelers enjoyed the carne–in other words, flesh–of other revelers. And so, the masques and costumes served (and perhaps still do!) a vital purpose for the frolicsome among us. (Wink! Wink!) We’ll be celebrating Carnevale with Two Chefs from Sicily tonight at Cacio e Vino in New York City.
Join us for the party! Full prix-fixe menu, wine, revelry, and yes, MASQUES included!
And see you (or you incognito) later!