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The carnival is a feast of the Catholic tradition of ancient origin. It is celebrated just before beginning the fast preceding Easter and is the last concession to â€œcarnal pleasuresâ€? before the abnegation of the fast. In fact, the term â€œcarnevaleâ€? is said to derive ethymologically form the Latin words â€œcarnem levareâ€?, that is, â€œtake away the fleshâ€? meaning that after this last banquet there was to be no feasting but a strict fast up until Easter.
Because of this atmosphere of â€œlast chance â€œ to celebrate, enjoy, misbehave, the carnival traditionally represent absolute liberty, fun and breaking all the rules that normally bind us. Also wearing masks makes it easier to take a break from the everyday life and from our usual, controlled selves. The carnival today is theoretically a Christian celebration, but it actually has origins far more ancient than that. The Saturnalia festivities of the ancient Romans can be seen as a predecessor of the Christian carnival, and even the Egyptians had similar celebrations with same kind of significance as long as 4000 years ago!
Today the carnival is still very much alive in the Catholic countries as Italy: it is, of course, a feast of the children, but not only. It should be celebrated 40 days before the Easter, even though it really extend over several weekends in the end of January â€“ beginning of February. In Sunday afternoon you see all the squares and streets of Rome crowded with families, the children parading proudly in their costumes: a princess dress seems to be the eternal favourite choice of the little girls, and for boys the classics are Superman, Zorro and then there are more â€œtrendyâ€? figures that come and go each year. Small children may be dressed as animals. Some of the best places to admire the parade are the Gianicolo hill in Rome, or Villa Borghese park on the top of the hill Pincio.
The carnival is not just for children: adults like to dress up too, though maybe not on streets but rather at dress parties, either private or organised by associations or night clubs. So if you happen to be in Rome in this period, be sure not to miss your change to dress up as you probably havenâ€™t done since you were 10 years old! Now is your chance to try on the princess dress of your dreams, or dress as Zorro in public!
For your stay in Rome book the â€œartisticâ€? and fun Hotel Des Artistes in the center of the city, or the newly opened, elegant and original Yes Hotel. For lower budget try the hotel and hostel Carlitoâ€™s Way, centrally located near the station.