The Minnie Mouse Mask

Walt Disney created Mickey Mouse in 1928. But Mickey couldn't be alone! Soon, Disney developed "love-interests" for Mickey, including Minnie Mouse. Disney featured them together in their debut film, Plane Crazy, released on May 15, 1928. From then on, Minnie made many appearances in movies, comic strips, and television series with her beau, Mickey.

This particular Carnival mask is a wonderful rendition of Minnie which was made by the Master mask makers of Tragicomica, a company located in Venice, Italy! It has been documented that the wearing of masks for the Venetian Carnival was seen as early as 1268. Masks are a central feature of the Venetian Carnival. The mascareri, or the mask makers, have practiced their trade in Venice since 1436. The masks are either made of leather or a papier-mâché technique. Traditional masks were simple in design and decoration and they often had a symbolic and practical function. Originally, Venetians were allowed to wear them between the festival of Santo Stefano (St. Stephen's Day, December 26) at the start of the Carnival season and midnight of Shrove Tuesday.

Carnival, which means "to put away the meat," began in Italy, when Catholics would hold a costume festival right before the first day of Lent. As time passed, carnivals in Italy became quite famous, quickly spreading to other parts of Europe, including France, Portugal, and Spain. Eventually with the religious conquests in the Americas and other parts of the world, Carnival became a tradition. Unfortunately, Carnival was outlawed by the Italian Fascist government in the 1930's, but it was not until a modern mask shop was founded in the 1980's that a revival of old traditions began.