In Venice, a secular tradition compares the Venetian Mardi Gras and the Hebraic Feast of Purim that, sometimes, but not this year (28/02-1/03/2018) coincides with the period before Lent.
Purim (fate) has historical origins, it’s the day of deliverance from the destruction planned by Haman, minister of Assuero. It’s a day of feasting and rejoicing, and in the Ghetto of Venice, it was a custom (and partly still is) to dance, wear masks and offer sweets, in a Carnival-like atmosphere.
The stalls used to sell traditional sweets (bise, zuccherini, impade) and a puff-pastry in the shape of donkey’s ears, called Haman’s ears, very similar to the Venetian galani. So, for these similarities, and because Purim is also considered a “time of joy”, the popular tradion talks about the Carnival of the Jews