Seven Days of Winter Solstice Giveaways-Day 2

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.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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.

52 Responses

  1. Cassi Keller says:

    This is making me want to travel!

    I love when Authors use real history in their writing

  2. Joni Stevens says:

    Thanks for the History lesson I would love to celebrate Carnevale in Venice! I was in New Orleans for Carnevale in 2011. For now I would love to win a Winter Solstice pkg! My Birthday is the start of the Winter Solstice Dec 22! It would make a wonderful Christmas/birthday present!

  3. Elizabeth H. says:

    That is so neat! Thanks for sharing!!

  4. Holly says:

    Love the beautiful masks available in Venice. I’ve always wanted to buy one but just don’t have a use for it – though I suppose I could throw a Carnevale party 🙂

  5. Amanda Grinstead says:

    That’s really fascinating. Especially that it lasted 6 months of the year. That’s dedication.

  6. Kellie F says:

    This is making me want to travel to Venice. Awesome.

  7. Jackie Woodland says:

    Would love visit Venice the scenery looks beautiful…

  8. Sheryl nyary says:

    This is so interesting. I am dying to make a trip now.

  9. myrandaroyann says:

    Ooo! I’m excited to see the masks tomorrow! I have a small collection of ceramic mardi gras masks that my mom brought back from New Orleans.

  10. Linda Thum says:

    A carnival lasting 6 mths! Wow! Did anyone work at all then? lols

  11. Aly P says:

    I had no idea! The history of the Carnevale is so fascinating! Thanks for sharing.

  12. Irene Jackson says:

    Would love to go there and see it, fascinating!

  13. Chris Brandstatter says:

    Someday I will travel thru Europe and stop in Venice!

  14. Michelle Tan says:

    I would love to go to Venice but I don’t know when will I ever get the chance to do it. oh well.
    thanks for the giveaway!

  15. SHERI MOORE says:

    It’s like a fairy tale place. Very interesting.

  16. Viki S. says:

    Some day I hope to go there. It just seems magical.
    Thank you

  17. Ericka S. says:

    I would love a chance to get to travel and see that! It looks amazing

  18. Julie D L says:

    Birthdays galore at our house this week!

  19. Diane says:

    We are learning so much with your blogs!!! Wish I could go anywhere…

  20. Jane-Ann Hoskins says:

    Looks like so much fun. Who doesn’t like a good party.

  21. Timitra says:

    Thanks for the great history lesson Thea!

  22. So many things I didn’t know about Carnevale. This event is great. I love history 🙂

  23. hilly says:

    I can see by the last line of your post that I should save this answer for tomorrow, but unfortunately I can’t:

    When you say ‘Carnivale’, my mind unhesitatingly flashes to the book “The Masks of Rome”, by Caroline Llewellyn.

  24. RVASarah says:

    The descriptions and the images (oh, the images), truly make this something worth adding to my Bucket List.

  25. Elizabeth Z says:

    I think we should have a mini-Carnevale here in the states, and celebrate it Elder Races style!

  26. Tina Wheatley says:

    Thanks for this amazing history of Venice and it’s Carnevale tradition. This is my first time learning about it.

  27. Dee Feagin says:

    Fascinating! Thanks for the history. Venice has always been unusual; this reinforces that reputation.

  28. Samantha R says:

    I’ve always wanted to attend a masked ball – a proper masked ball with big dresses and glittering half masks. But, sadly, I’ve never been invited….!


  29. thecrazygranny says:

    wi would love to be in Venice during Carnevale

  30. Ileana A. says:

    In my country every November we do our own carnaval and is pretty good. People from all over the world visit us, and is always fun. Of course I would love to travel to Venice!

  31. Joanne B says:

    Thanks for sharing that fun history lesson. You’re making me want to travel.

  32. JenniferK says:

    Thanks for the sharing. Everything looks so beautiful and I want to travel to Venice someday.

  33. Sabrina says:

    Thanks for another history lesson!

  34. This is fun! Venice is one of my go-to cities. I have to get there before it sinks!

  35. Kristina Parmenter says:

    It is so awesome to learn something new each day. Thank you for having this great giveaway.

  36. Sumiyati E Monoarfa says:

    I never knew about Napoleon and Venice. Every day we learn something new and interesting which is why I love to read. Thank you Thea~

  37. Diane says:

    I have never been to a Carnivale, heard lots about them though!

  38. Alaina says:

    That would be so awesome to go to! I love everything im learning about this.. thanks!!

  39. JenM says:

    How interesting, I can’t imagine Carnevale going on for six months at a time.

  40. bn100 says:

    Very informative post.

  41. Kay Reed says:

    Great interview and your books sound like they were fun to write. Thank you for sharing your world with all of us.

  42. Julie says:

    They certainly took Carnevale seriously. O_o

  43. Yami says:

    Interesting, I honestly love the lesson. I’ll have to look more into this now.

  44. donnas says:

    Great post I would love to see it.

  45. Pam P says:

    Wish I could get to Venice and experience Carnevale, so interesting!

  46. Mary Jo says:

    You really make me want to go to Venice and also experience Carnavale…. I guess I’ll just read some more books 🙂

  47. Keslynn says:

    Some historians theorize that the trumps in the tarot deck come from popular Carnevale characters. I would love to visit Venice!

  48. Beth Martinez says:

    I love these books!

  49. Renate says:

    I have always likes the sinister looking masks during the venice carnivale. Thanks for the “lesson” 🙂

  50. Ellen Wortham says:

    That was some interesting times.

  51. Michelle K says:

    what a great history lesson!