Italian Festivals Before Lent

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Italian food takes center stage during many Carnevale celebrations.

Celebrating the approaching Lenten season is a ritual for many cultures. In Italy pre-Lenten festivities are referred to as Carnevale. Carnevale is the Italian equivalent of Mardi Gras, where food, fun and celebrations are used to indulge prior to the traditional practice of giving up vices during Lent. Pre-Lenten Italian celebrations can be found throughout the United States.

  1. Northeastern United States

    • Villanova University, a Catholic university located in Villanova, Pennsylvania, holds an annual Carnevale festival hosted by the school's Italian Club . The event is open to members of the local community and all students who attend Villanova. The Italian American Community Center, located in Albany, New York, brings the celebration of the pre-Lenten season to the Albany area every year. Food, fun and a celebration of both Italian culture and the Lenten season are provided to all who attend.

    Southern United States

    • The Italian Club for Baylor University in Waco, Texas holds an annual Italian version of Mardi Gras. The event focuses on the days leading up to Lent, where Italians celebrate by indulging in food and drink. The Italian Club of Tampa, Florida holds an annual celebration reminiscent of Carnevale, which is held throughout Italy. The festival focuses on food, including both Italian entrees and desserts, along with music and dancing.

    Midwestern United States

    • Twin Cities UNICO, one of the Midwestern branches of the national service organization UNICO, celebrates Carnevale every year in the Minneapolis, Minnesota area. Activities featured during the event include food, socializing, music and a silent auction. In Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Carnevale festivities are held at the Italian Community Center the Saturday before Lent officially begins. This celebration has a Mardi Gras theme, as those attending are encouraged to dress in costumes and wear masks.

    Western United States

    • The North Bay Italian Cultural Foundation holds an annual Carnevale celebration every year at the Veterans Building in Sonoma County, California. The major attraction of the group's festivities center around a large dinner that is open to both members and guests of members. Oregon plays host to an annual Carnevale event, held and supported by The Italian School of Portland. This event has a family appeal, with activities designed for children to allow everyone to participate in the festivities.

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