Saturday, January 27, 2018

Ticino's Carnival tradition

Lugano and its surroundings will surprise you the most fun-filled days of the year, i.e. those dedicated to "Carnevale" kicking off in Roveredo on January 30th. On Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras, Bellinzona hosts the festivities with "Guggenbands" and a large masked parade. A carnivalesque tradition that is repeated in Chiasso when the communal authorities hand over the keys of the city to the Prime Minister who, to mark the occasion, transforms it into the Free Republic of Nebiopoli. According to the Ambrosian rite, the party continues in Tesserete near Lugano with “risotto and luganighe” a go-go and a large masked parade led by his majesty .

Traditionally associated with showmanship, Carnival is all about having fun, indulgence and letting go. In a peasant community like the one that existed in Ticino until around the mid-20th century, Carnival represented a time of plentiful eating, due mainly to the fact that this period preceded Lent, a time devoted to abstinence, fasting, penitence, moderation and spiritual discipline, especially at mealtimes.

The traditional Carnival dish was "risotto" accompanied by "luganighette" (traditional Ticino sausage) and it was also customary to eat chestnuts with cream. Carnival was also one of the rare occasions dedicated to having fun and socializing with others. Music and dancing encouraged contact between young people. "Tombola" (a form of Italian bingo) was played and contests to climb the "Palo della Cuccagna", i.e. a greasy pole, were held in a bid to capture the gifts and food dangling from the top. In towns and villages, Carnival was marked by plays, masked balls and the circulation of satirical newspapers.

The end of Carnival was announced by the ringing of a bell and in some regions by a bonfire. In the areas in which the Roman rite was celebrated, Carnival festivities ended on Mardi Gras while in other places, in keeping with the Ambrosian rite, it continued until Saturday.

Click here for the Ticino Carnevale calendar 2018

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