Today is Shrove Tuesday, when all our sins are forgiven, and when we need to eat pancakes and all the cream before Lent. Husband and I celebrated early and had Norwegian waffles on Saturday. Shrove is the past tense of shrive, which means to confess one’s sins, repent, and be forgiven and absolved. Pancakes are powerful. Germans eat pastries called Fastnachts for the same effect.
We visited Montreal several summers and stayed in the Old Port. There we purchased carnival masks made in Venice in a lovely book store near the Notre Dame cathedral. We tried to find Renaissance Commedia dell’arte masks instead of the fantastical masks you can find in more commercial venues. We managed to get a zanni mask. A zanni is a servant who sometimes has a long nose. The longer his nose, the more ignorant he is. The mask reminds me of a plague mask. His name is the derivation of our English word “zany”.
A couple of Harlequin (Arlechinno) masks. He is another zanni, but with a shorter nose. He is a somewhat clever servant character:
And two Columbine (Columbina) masks. She is Harlequin’s love interest and a very perky, very clever servant.
Our local Catholic School district has a major fund raiser they call Mardi Gras every year in February. It involves games, entertainment, and lots of good food. It is open to the community and region. People are most unhappy since the new bishop in Bismarck decided a couple of years ago that all the money raised had to be sent to the diocese, and he would decide how much of the money should get sent back to the local Catholic schools and how much would be used for diocesan expenses. Sounds like a perfect Commedia plot. I am sure the clever servants would get all the money back, further any thwarted love interests, and show the bishop to be a fool.
What does the word carnival mean to you? What is the appeal wearing a mask? What kind of mask would you like to wear?