Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday, Carnival, Fasching; No matter what it is called this day is celebrated in much the same way in Catholic countries around the world. The eve of Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, an important period of fasting which covers the 40 days leading up to Easter, this day was the last day to do as much of 'it' as possible before 'it' was forbidden. The imagination reels at the number of things a conservative nation ought not to be doing while fasting. These things comprise the shadowy contours of the reputation that carneval has built up for itself. However, as with so many things, fervor, reputation, consequence, and behavioural code have relaxed to a great extent in modern times rendering Fasching more a festival than anything else.

   And what a festival! Confetti, masks, fancy dress, champagne and krapfen; doughnuts filled with apricot jam. Fasching itself is the culmination of a season of balls and krapfen, an ever increasing indulgence in the dreariest parts of winter. It ends late when the population at large is sufficiently full and satisfied. These same people who will wake up wednesday morning with serious resolutions similar to those made at new year, but that is another post.

   Fasching is an outdoor celebration, taking place on the main streets and squares of the cities and towns. People come dressed up, ready to watch and join in the revelries. Stands full of gingerbread and cotton candy serve treats to children of overspending parents and parades slowly wind their way through town. The family festival feeling slowly changes as the day wears on melding into a more mature atmosphere as darkness falls.

   In our corner of the world the venetian festivities, masks and costumes play a central role in the way fasching 'looks'. To celebrate in Italy, and especially in Venice, is to really celebrate. Those who have done so bring masks back and can be seen wearing them in town. A couple of years ago we were in Trieste during the carnival season and even though we were outside of the old town there were continuous activities going on, especially for the children. Here in Graz one of our balls is a Venetian style costume ball. One of these days, when the children are older, I am looking forward to renting costumes and going.

    I have included pictures from a few years in this post. If you immediately observed the changes in weather, thats why:)

 And of course one of the most fun things is to look at all of the wonderful costumes!

 Do you celebrate Carnival in your part of the world? If so is it similar or different to here? Let me know in the comments.

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