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The world famous Carnival of Venice began in 1296, as a public holiday on the day before Lent. It soon became a time for masquerades, parties, theatrical performances, parades, street dances, egg throwing, flirtation, and general hijinks, like, you know, killing animals in public to amuse the crowd, or rolling pigs in carts down the hill and into the river.
All in all, Carnival was an important predecessor along the road to reality TV.