|A Carnevale princess on a street strewn with cordiandoli (paper confetti)|
|Carnevale in Piazza del Duomo in Milan|
Mardi Gras (aka Martedi Grasso, Fat Tuesday), the culmination of Carnevale, was first devised by the Romans, although it is Carnevale in Venice and Viareggio that are famous worldwide. The word Carnevale translates as "go away meat," because during Lent practicing Christians did not eat meat. Much earlier in history, the Roman Saturnalia celebrations began with a parade of floats resembling ships – the carrum navalis. Instead of the colorful costumes we see today, the riders were, in fact, naked men and women dancing with erotic abandon. (And we thought that was a Brazilian idea). Eventually, the more sedate Carnevale celebrations spread to the Catholic countries of Europe and then on to the new world.
Children attend parties dressed like princesses or cowboys, while their parents ogle the pastry offerings that appear in the windows of le pasticcerie (bakeries) and clog the aisles of supermarkets. The diets that began on January 1 are forgotten these few weeks before Lent -- no one can resist the crunchy, flaky, sweet delight of a plate of frappe dusted with powdered sugar, and it’s absolutely impossible to eat only one.
|The Devil at EMI supermarket|
copyright Sharri Whiting 2011