It seems like yesterday that we were talking about it, but a whole year has whizzed by in the meantime. For a while back there, we had returned to seeming a bunch of normal, everyday folk, but soon colourful, crazy carnival will possess us again, and normality will cease to exist for a week!
Carnival is closely related to Easter; this is because the partying always comes to an end on Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of Lent, the period which separates the two events. Every year the dates change, and no one seems to know exactly when carnival will actually occur until official announcements are out, but of course there are specific calculations marking the date. In order to work it all out, we need to locate Easter Sunday, which always falls on the Sunday following the first full moon of Spring (between March 22nd and April 25th), then count six weeks backwards. This takes us to Carnival week.
This year Easter will fall on April 21st, which means that Fat Thursday (the beginning of the festivities) will be on February 28th, and consequently Fat Tuesday (the last day) will fall on March 5th. This applies to the whole of Italy except for Milan, because in the Lombardy capital, the party keeps going until Saturday March 9th thanks to the Carnevale Ambrosiano. Saint Ambrogio is the patron saint of Milan, and one of the most famous and characteristic masks used in the parades is that of Meneghino, a servant who makes fun of the shortcomings and weaknesses of his noble masters. Antique heritage bound inextricably to tradition.
In our area, frenzied preparations are taking place; as we already mentioned in previous articles, the highlight of Bedonia’s carnival is the school parade, involving all the classes, each dressed up in relation to the main theme. This year, we’ve been informed by the many posters dotted around town that the theme will be one of the great Italian geniuses of all time – Leonardo da Vinci! Work on the costumes begins in January, or even before in some cases, depending on the complexity of the dresses and floats. As far as school activity goes, parents and teachers meet on the school premises when lessons are over for the day, and collaborate in creating not only their childrens’ costumes, but any accessories that may be needed. So we also have dads and granpas chipping in with their carpentry, metalwork or painting skills, whilst mums, grans and aunts get going with needle, thread, cardboard and glue – whatever it takes. No details are spared. Weeks of planning and preparation in order to be sure of yet another successful show…..and that is one of the reasons why the people of Bedonia (and not only) feel so involved when the kids start parading down the slope which leads from the schools to the town center….we’ve all been through it either personally as students, or as parents (or both!), and we know how much time and effort this event absorbs. Then of course, anyone is welcome to take part in the procession with their own creations, adding to the festival fun – and many do, amongst the general mirth of onlookers!
So now we await the final result, which will no doubt be as awesome as ever. The children will be illustrating some of the many inventions of Leonardo da Vinci, and learning about him in the process, since the theme is always subject of study during lessons. What better way to instill knowledge in a child than to get him/her to dress up and play the part?!
Roll on carnival!