As seen in True Colors, the Elder Races have their own Christmas celebration called the Masque, which culminates in The Festival of the Masque, a masked ball that takes place on the winter solstice. For the next week, join us in celebrating the Masque with seven days of winter solstice giveaways. Every day you’ll have a chance to enter to win a gift pack that includes one copy of Lord’s Fall, a bookmark, dragon soap made by Thea Harrison, a coupon for 30% the Elder Race novellas (including True Colors), and a holiday card from Thea. To enter, just comment on the daily posts and then enter your information via the Rafflecopter form (embedded in the post or click on the link). You can gain extra entries by signing up for Thea’s newsletter and tweeting about the giveaway.
Once again, thank you all for your interest in Thea’s novels and happy holidays!
Life’s a Stage: the World of Carnevale
Today many places in the world are famous for their carnivals, but Venice’s Carnevale was the first, brightest, and most comprehensive. It started as an event officially sponsored by the state in the 12th century, but its roots go back to ancient pagan festivals.
Carnevale in Venice wasn’t strictly scheduled as it is today. It could happen at any time before the start of Lent; and by the the 18th century, it lasted six months out of the entire year. During Carnevale, anyone who appeared in public wore a mask: tourists, beggars, artistocrats, and even the Doge himself. One visitor to Venice described seeing a mother in a mask nursing a masked baby! The play, anonymity, and unreality of Carnevale gradually became part normal life.
To say Carnevale was a world of unreality would be putting it mildly. When people wore masks in Venice, their identities were completely subsumed into the characters they were dressed as. Beneath the Carnevale masks, everyone in Venice was equal: men and women, paupers and princes. It was actually illegal to unmask or even touch someone on the streets (a law that was completely unenforcable), and tourists who donned masks and didn’t act like the characters of the mask (usually borrowed from the commedia dell’arte) were beaten in the streets. Shakespeare may have meant “All the world’s a stage,” as a metaphor, but in Venice during Carnevale, it was the literal truth.
Napoleon outlawed Carnevale when he conquered Venice in 1797 and, having annexed it into his Kingdom of Italy, put a period on the history of the oldest republic in Europe. The Carnevale as we know today was revived in 1979 as a way to attract tourists, and is a low-key imitation of the Carnevale that used to exist in Venice. It’s sponsored by corporate backers, not the state, and is essentially a costume party devoid of the social and political implications Carnevale used to have. Yet in a way, the pure commercialization of Carnevale was inevitable. It’s always been a way to attract tourists to the city and a symbol of the uniqueness of Venice; now more so than ever.
Tomorrow we’ll look at the traditional masks of Carnivale. Today, to enter the contest, leave a comment on this post and fill out the Rafflecopter form.
Remember, to enter the giveaway you must use the Rafflecopter form. Winners will be randomly selected and notified December 23rd. All contest entries close December 22nd at 11:59 MST. This contest is open internationally.