Covering Up!

Mask 1Andrea here, musing about something that’s on all of our minds . . . well, actually, on all our faces! I don’t know about you, but I’m not someone who ever found a great allure in the idea of wearing masks. Unlike many of my friends, Halloween was . . meh—not a big deal. The idea of anonymity—which conjures a certain sense of dangerous freedom to misbehave and get away with it—wasn’t something that tickled my fancy.

And yet, when you look at the history of masks and masked celebrations, it’s clear that face coverings appeal to the naughty side of human nature. (There is a certain irony in today’s masks, which are quite the opposite in intent—we Plague-doctorwear them not only to be personally safe, but also to be good citizens and help protect others.) Most every culture has a tradition of masks being used for ceremonial and religious practices—and also just for mischievous fun!

Masks used to ward off illness have of course existed throughout history—the most famous examples are the plague marks of medieval Europe. (That long beak was to hold a small sachet of burning herbs, whose smoke was thought to help protect one from whatever evil was causing sickness) But for the most part, masks have been used for more frivolous things.

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