Translation Services: Carnival in Italy


Maybe you might know that Giovedì Grasso (fat Thursday) was a few days ago, whereas on Tuesday Italians will have Martedì Grasso. This is the equivalent of Shrove Tuesday for English speakers, a day on which many people enjoy their home made pancakes. Shrove Tuesday is the last day of Carnival before Ash Wednesday, which marks the start of Lent, a 4-week period before Easter (and more delicious food!).

In the past, and also now for several Catholics, it was quite common to make some sacrifices over Lent. Sacrifices include giving up chocolate or trying to help out at home. For these reasons, Carnival is your last day of enjoyment before 4 weeks of preparation for Easter, so get the most out of it! In Italian we even have a rhyming proverb that is ‘A Carnevale ogni scherzo vale’. Meaning that every joke is allowed on Carnival, thus highlighting the relaxed and laid-back atmosphere.


I will just talk briefly about Modena, my home town. Here we boast three local masks. The father Sandrone (where I am from, you are called a ‘sandrone’ if at times you are a bit thick), his wife Pulonia and their son Sgorghigolo. Every year on Fat Thursday the three masks appear on the balcony of the town hall and hold a satiric speech in our local dialect where they make fun of the town council and of what is happening in Modena. For several people this is a speech not to be missed. This is a family of masks, with Sgorghigolo wearing the blue and yellow scarf of Modena FC.

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However, there are several different masks around Italy and you are more than welcome to let us know about your local ones! But some of them have become almost international. I believe you know Arlecchino (Harlequin), easily recognised by his very colourful outfit and who comes from Bergamo, in the north of Italy. Another well-known colleague is Pulcinella, who is from Naples and is usually dressed in white, with a black mask on his face. But these are only a few! There are also Colombina, Balanzone, Stenterello and many others. Have a look at them and find your favourite!

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