Blog post written by Thomas Mormino. Thomas is a college sophomore at Georgetown University studying Global Business and Italian. He is Co-President of Il Circolo Italiano, the Italian Club at Georgetown.
The Georgetown University Il Circolo Italiano celebrated the Italian holiday of Carnevale on Tuesday, March 1. The word Carnevale comes from the latin expression carne-levare, meaning “to remove meat” or “to say farewell to meat”. The Carnevale refers to the period of the year before Lent , which is when Catholics abstain from eating meat until the arrival of Easter. Carnevale is often celebrated in Italy with dances, masquerades and celebrations.
Carnevale is a day that is particularly dear to Italians because it is a time to eat, dance, and spend time with friends and family before the restrictions of the Catholic Lent period begin. Celebrating this holiday in particular is wonderful for our students as it culminates Italian musical, culinary, artistic, and religious traditions into a single celebration. For Georgetown students, this event could not have come at a better time arriving just before midterm exams began.
In light of recent events in Ukraine and out of respect and solidarity towards the people of Ukraine and the greater European Union, Il Circolo Italiano chose to keep the event informative rather than celebratory. We distributed flyers that outlined the story of Carnevale and the customs surrounding the holiday to students of Italian. In Georgetown’s Italian courses, many students were particularly interested in the unique tradition of Carnevale masks. Finally, we enjoyed some homemade Chiacchiere, an Italian dessert that is typical of Carnevale.
“We were happy to have been able to spread awareness of such a beautiful holiday that many people know so little about. ” said Thomas, Il Circolo Italiano, Co-President.
What is Carnevale in Italy?
Carnevale is the last celebration before lent begins on Ash Wednesday. Lent has historically been the time before Easter when many Catholics deprive themselves of something they enjoy.
Celebrations are held all over Italy from Venice and Milan down into the villages and towns of Sicily. The celebration of Carnevale is the Italian version of Mardi Gras in New Orleans with oranges instead of bread. Many of the biggest celebrations are on Martedì Grasso aka Fat Tuesday.
Chiacchiere are crispy and fried pastries eaten over the Carnevale period. They are very crumbly sweet dessert loved by children and adults.
Did you know that their name changes depending on the region?
You may have heard of frappe in Rome, cenci in Toscana and sfrappole Emilia.
According to the recipe, the main ingredients are flour, sugar, eggs and butter.
In today’s Italian, “chiacchiere” means “chit chat”. The origin of the name is unknown, but it probably goes back to the Queen Margherita di Savoia who requested a dessert while chatting with her guests.