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Carnival in Bellinzona, Research Paper Example

Pages: 5

Words: 1355

Research Paper

Throughout history and among different cultures, masks have had different meanings to those that would wear them. In modern the modern world, masks are typically associated with theatrical performances and themed parties, although the origins of this activity were often rooted in religion. The earliest known form of religious masks are attributable to a variety of African cultures who held animist beliefs. When tribe officials would wear masks that portrayed certain types of animals, they believed that they would become the spirit of the animal, and the spirit would be called upon for religious ceremonies. Even in the modern era, masks are worn to celebrate a variety of Christian celebrations. In the United States and other areas of the world, masks are a well-known component of Mardi Gras celebrations. In many parts of Europe, Carnevale is celebrated on the Tuesday before lent. Bellinzona celebrates its own version of these festivities with the celebration of Rabadan.

The first Rabadan celebration as we know it occurred in Bellinzona in 1862, indicating that this celebration has existed for the previous two centuries. The word “Rabadan” roughly translates into “noise”, which is an excellent descriptor of the events that occur on this holiday. According to historical sources, carnival of Rabadan has roots in pagan traditions and an ancient form of this experience was celebrated for the first time during the Crusades. The committee who originally planned this celebration did so in order to bring free happiness to the people of Bellinzona. To ensure that everyone in attendance would have a good time despite the state of their physical characteristics, the planning committee invited all attendees to wear a mask so that such trivial matters would not interfere with the celebration.

While it took several years and several proposed variations of the festival in order to ensure that it would take off successful, the tradition came to be well loved by the population of Bellinzona and it continues to be celebrated even today. Variations of the festival in the past have offered music, food, fireworks, and other activities. Each year, there are many exciting events to look forward to. The mask has become an important symbol of Rabadan celebrations, and many festival goers look forward to earning a reward for the best mask, which encourages interesting submissions. This year, the 152nd Rabadan is being celebrated. As a consequence, it is expected that many individuals will be wearing masks on this day.

Methods

To determine the significance of the Rabadan mask in the modern era, I will wear a mask to the Bellinzona Rabadan and on campus and record my experience. I hypothesize that people will be made happy by the fact that I am wearing the mask and that I will only get a moderate level of attention from passersby. I believe that I will receive more attention in public when I am on campus then when I am at the Bellinzona Rabadan. When I am at the Bellinzona Rabadan, I believe that wearing this mask will cause others doing the same to accept me into their celebrations.

To initiate this experiment, I purchased a mask from outside of the Bellinzona Rabadan from a street vendor. It is just a green shiny mask with feathers on the top. While it is not just a simple mask, it is not elaborate in comparison to many of the masks that I have seen thus far. I selected to attend Rabadan during the “Opening of City Carnival” at 19:00 on Monday 16 2015. I will stay at this event for one hour and walk around, noting how various people react to my mask. Before leaving the celebration, I will take care to remove my mask to ensure that it is not seen on me by anyone on campus. On Tuesday 17 February 2015, I will put the mask on for one hour at 11:00 and wear it around campus. I will not inform any of my friends or classmates about what I am doing. I will then walk around campus for one hour and note how people react to me wearing the mask. After returning back to my residence on both days of this experiment, I will record my results in the form of a reflection for later analysis.

Results

During the opening ceremony on 16 February, there were many individuals around me also wearing masks. Those who were not doing so seemed to be ridiculed for not participating and were eventually made to wear a mask by their friends. Therefore, there was little notice concerning my own mask wearing because this was considered to be normal. At the ceremony, I observed a variety of masks with different levels of ornamentation and myself complimenting passersby for their good work. A few of these individuals complimented my mask as well, but this appeared to be more polite than realistic because my mask was fairly plain compared to theirs.

When I walked around campus on 17 February, I found that there were several individuals also wearing masks although the individuals wearing masks were in the minority. When I would pass by another student wearing a mask, we would often make eye contact, acknowledging our shared choice. Occasionally, student’s not wearing masks would comment “nice mask!” It appeared that individuals were more willing to talk about the masks on campus because it appeared to be more out of place. The likely assumption was that I was heading to Rabadan, so this action didn’t appear to be too out of the ordinary.

Discussion

Based on the reactions I received at both the Rabadan ceremony and on campus, it is clear that the fact that I was wearing a mask on Rabadan make this activity socially acceptable. If I were to have work a mask on an average day of the year, it is likely that I would receive many negative stares. However, doing so on this particularly day was more complimentary. When I attended the Rabadan open ceremony, it seemed that individuals who wore masks were accepted into the celebrations while those who didn’t were ridiculed. This is an interesting phenomenon because this observation would be opposite during any other week after the celebrations have ended. However, during Rabadan, mask wearers function as members of a community. While the individuals at the ceremony wanted their friends to be a part of the community, they were not willing to accept them until they decided to wear their mask. On campus, I stood out a little more than usual because I was wearing the mask and received commentary from both mask wearers and non-mask wearers. This demonstrated that the responses I received were dependent on the location in which I was wearing the mask.

Wearing a mask is an interesting experience because it completely changes one’s identity. Before engaging in this experiment, I was worried that I would feel lonely at Rabadan because I do not typically attend alone. However, I found that wearing the mask enhanced my self-esteem because even though I was alone at the ceremony, no one knew who I was. Therefore, I was more confident in speaking to strangers, which is not something I would typically do. This phenomenon reflects the conventional usage of the mask in both modern theatrical and ancient religious activities. When I wear the mask, I feel that I become a different person completely which empowers me to do things that I usually would not. This demonstrates that masks have certain power and makes me more greatly appreciate the value that masks have held in a variety of cultures.

Masks were originally worn at the Rabadan celebrations in order to ensure that all attendees are able to have a good time despite their physical appearances. I think that the value of the mask extends beyond this because even individuals who consider themselves to be physically attractive will feel more confident if a mask is worn. At Rabadan, people didn’t have to worry about making a fool of themselves or speaking to strangers because their identity is safe. Ultimately, I found that wearing the mask has helped me enjoy this celebration even more and I hope that this tradition continues for years to come.

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