The bull has arrived by Marco Secchi

A huge bull, Carnival 2012 Allegory, has arrived in Venice. The Allegory is inspired by ancient rites of the venetian lagoon, linked to the antique celebration of the bulls. The Bull will be Venice carnival main symbol, until the last day, Tuesday the 21st, when the Bull will become the protagonist of a ritual of “sacrifice”.VENICE, ITALY - FEBRUARY 04:  A gondola sails on the Grand Canal at Punta della Dogana where a model of a giant bull - the 2012 edition symbol - has been placed on February 4, 2012 in Venice, Italy. The Carnival of Venice (Carnevale di Venezia) is an annual festival and starts 40 days before Easter and ends on Shrove Tuesday ( Martedì Grasso). (Photo by Marco Secchi/Getty Images) (Marco Secchi/Getty Images)

The tradition of the Bull The Carnival of Venice 2012 wants to recall one of the episodes about the history and tradition of the real meaning of "feast" in Venice. In 1162, the patriarch of Aquileia, Urlico from Teffen, allied to some pro-imperial feudatories in the Friuli and occupied the flourishing salt plans of Grado, forcing  Enrico Dandolo to escape. Dandolo, patriarch of Grado fled to Venice, where he asked for help. The Doge of Venice, Vitale Michiel II, answered to this assault by besetting and conquering Aquileia and making Ulrico, the patriarch of Aquileia, his prisoner, along with 12 landowners and 12 clergy. To regain his freedom, Patriarch agreed to submit to any lien: venetians asked Aquileia Patriarch, every year, in the occasion of  Maundy Thursday, to deliver them one bull, 12 breads and 12 pigs to use for a public show in the square.

In the morning of Maundy Thursday, a venetian "tauromachia" (bullfight) took place; during this ritual, the "corpo de' Fabbri"  who had distinguished themselves in battles against Ulrico, had the had the privilege to cut the head of the bull using spears and scimitars, for the glory of the town and Venice.

The traditional event, one of the first to be institutionally included in the Carnival of Venice, was abolished in 1520 by Doge Andrea Gritti, but was revived from 1550 until the fall of the "Serenissima in one version of bullfighting, but without the 12 pigs that do not "were decorated Lordship to ours. "


Venice Carnival 2012 by Marco Secchi

I know we are not even at Christmas but I just realised yesterday, that Carnival is getting closer and closer. For 2012 will be between the 4th of February and 21st February 2012. The main events will start from the 11th of February. Few tips on what to do are hereEven Federico mentioned Carnival yesterday during a very nice book presentation so here we are to talk about Carnival. I know there are many versions about the origins of Carnival, the one that I like best is the following.

VENICE, ITALY - MARCH 02:  Carnival costumes and masks pose near St Mark's Square  in Venice, Italy. The Venice Carnival, one of the largest and most important in Italy, attracts thousands of people from around the world each year. The theme for this year's carnival is 'Ottocento', a nineteenth century evocation, and will run from February 19 till March 8...HOW TO BUY THIS PICTURE: please contact us via e-mail at sales@xianpix.com or call our offices in Milan at (+39) 02 400 47313 or London   +44 (0)207 1939846 for prices and terms of copyright.. (Marco Secchi)

The oldest document pertaining to the use of masks in Venice dates back to 2nd May 1268. In the document it is written that it was forbidden for masqueraders to practice the game of the "eggs". From the early 14th century onwards, new laws started to be promulgated, with the aim of stopping the relentless moral decline of the Venetian people of the day. This restrictive carnival legislation started with a decree on 22nd February 1339 prohibiting masqueraders from going around the city at night. A decree that helps us understand just how libertine the Venetians of the day were, is that of the 24th January 1458 which forbade men from entering convents dressed as women to commit "multas inhonestates"! In a similar vein, the decree of 3rd February 1603 is interesting in that it attempted to restore morality in the convents.

Masqueraders were banned from entering the nuns’ parlous – it had been the convention to sit in the parlous and talk to the nuns. Frequently, decrees were promulgated prohibiting masqueraders from carrying arms or any instrument which could cause harm, or other decrees which forbade masqueraders from entering churches. This obligation was extended to the townsfolk who were not allowed to enter churches wearing "indecent attire". 1608 was an important year, the 13th August to be precise, when a decree from the council of 10 was issued declaring that the wearing of the mask throughout the year posed a serious threat to the Republic. To avoid the terrible consequences of this immoral behavior, every citizen, nobleman and foreigner alike, was obliged to only wear a mask during the days of carnival and at official banquets.

The penalties inflicted for breaking this law were heavy – for a man this meant two years in jail, 18 months’ service to the Republic galley-rowing (with ankles fettered) and not only that, a 500 lire fine to the Council of 10. As for women, they were whipped from St Mark’s all the way to Rialto, then held to public ridicule between the two columns in St Mark’s. They were banned from entering the territory of the Venetian Republic for 4 years and had to pay the 500 lire fine to the Council of 10. 50 years after the decree of 1608, the Council of 10 published a proclamation on the 15th January reaffirming the ban on wearing masks and bearing arms.

It was further prohibited to enter holy places wearing a mask and it was expressly forbidden to wear religious clothes with a mask. In the same decree the use of drums was banned before midday, and even dancing of any description was prohibited outside of the carnival period. Seeing that many Venetian nobles used to go gambling wearing a mask to avoid their creditors, in 1703, masks were banned all year round from casinos.

Two different decrees (1699 and 1718) saw the prohibition of wearing a mask during Lent and other religious festivals which took place during carnival. In 1776, an act introduced to protect the by now forgotten "family honor", forbade all women from going to the theatre without a mask and cloak. After the fall of the Republic, the Austrian government forbade the use of masks for both private parties and elite parties (e.g., la Cavalchina della Fenice) . The Italo-Austrian government was more open but now it was the Venetians who were being diffident. Venice was no longer the city of carnival, but just a little imperial province without personal liberty. During the second Austrian government it was once again permitted to wear masks.

Nowadays is one of the main events in Venice and thousands of people come to Venice.