The history of masquerade balls
If you're looking for possible themes for your birthday party, how about trying a masquerade themed party? You can trace the origins of masquerade balls way back from the 15th century. People would celebrate carnival by masquerading in lavishly designed masks in order to conceal their identities. These types of events then expanded into formal gatherings like marriages - usually what we'd call a wedding reception - where people would dance in snug fitting clothes and colorful masks. Generally, these balls were set aside for the upper class. The masks though, were available across different classes; people could preform unlawful acts or participate in lewd behavior without fear of being found out. Nowadays, masquerade balls can be thrown for any occasion. Possibly the most well-known design for masquerade party outfits comes from Venice, Italy where they have the Venetian Carnivale two weeks before Lent. This event came before the popular term Mardi Gras, which is a French word meaning "Fat Tuesday".
There are several different types of masks that can be worn. The Medico Della Peste or Plague Doctor mask has its characteristically long beak. This mask is accompanied by black clothes and white gloves. The Bauta mask has a simple design. It has a square face with a triangular chin that points outward allowing the wearing to talk. The nose is usually well defined, but can be subtle if so desired. The Clumbina masks are the ones that conceal the upper part of a person's face; similar to a sleeping mask only with eye-hole cutouts. The Moretta is feminine in nature and the Volta was worn for a guys or girls night out. This mask was the most popular as it's easy to drink and socialize with. These are all easy to find if hosting a Mardi Gras themed party at your house. But you can also make them yourself if you're artistically inclined.
Masquerading at your home
Here in the States, Mobile, Alabama is where formal masquerade balls are still being held. They have a strict dress code and a theme is usually required for these events. They're organized by mystic society members and it's invite only. Mardi Gras is usually associated with New Orleans, but Mobile was the first to celebrate the event. Hosting one at your home would make for a great party celebration. Whether it's your 30th birthday party or some other event, stocking up on Moonpies and King Cake would ensure people are in the right frame of mind.
Do what you will
While Mardi Gras celebrations can sometimes get out of hand, a masquerade party can be family friendly. With the Carnival celebration usually being the last hooray before the fasting and pious attitude of Lent, festivities up until then will cross all boundaries and an attitude of reckless abandonment will be pervasive in the area. You can set whatever theme you want your masquerade party to have. And it can be a family event or something you and your friends do. You don't have to come in the traditional Venetian garb either. You can modernize it with neon colored masks and turn it into a blacklight party with music and dancing. It may not be to hard to find a local club having one as they also host themed parties. Whatever you decide to do, hosting a masquerade ball is a fun way to party.
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