Brazilian Carnival

Brazilian Carnival is the greatest party in the world and takes place every year before Lent, which starts on Ash Wednesday. Actually, during the whole month, many festivities take place in Brazil and it is celebrated in many different ways throughout the country, but the most famous festival happens in Rio de Janeiro. So…Brazilian Carnival is a cultural event that takes place in most of the cities of Brazil, especially Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, Recife, and Sao Paulo, where it is observed with parades, street parties, and is generally very well known to people around the world for its exciting carnal rhythms such as samba, pagode and chorinho.

Brazilian Carnival

However, to talk about the Brazilian Carnival culture, we need to know some about the history and some facts from this festival too.

The History of Brazilian Carnival

The first recorded celebration of the Carnival in Brazil occurred in 1723 when Portuguese immigrants from the islands of Açores, Madeira, and Cabo Verde introduced the Entrudo to Brazil, with carnival celebrations dating back to that year. People went out into the streets soaking each other with buckets of water and hurling mud and food, which frequently resulted in street fights and riots.

Throughout the 1800s, more structured parades, such as the grandes sociedades or great societies, were held when the Emperor joined in the fun with a group of aristocrats who marched through the streets wearing masks and gorgeous costumes while music played. Masquerade carnival balls accompanied by polkas and waltzes became popular during the 1840s.

The second half of the century witnessed a transition from street parades with horse-drawn floats and military bands to the carnival. The carnival became a working-class celebration where people dressed up and joined the parade, accompanied by musicians playing string instruments and flutes near the end of the century. During times of military censorship, the carnival was used to express political protest.

Brazilian Carnival
Fernando Frazão/Agência Brasil

The Samba Schools would employ irony and sarcasm to convey their discontentment with the government and people’s desire for liberty.

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African influence on the Brazilian Carnival

The African influence on the Brazilian Carnival is undeniable. From the music to the costumes, the dancing, and even some of the dance moves, all these elements show clear signs of African culture.

During slavery time in Brazil, most slaves were taken from areas where the Portuguese language was not spoken. Some slaves came from Angola, Mozambique, and Guinea-Bissau among others but for many of them, these places were very different from Brazil. In Africa, these people practiced a wide variety of religions and cultures but when they arrived in Brazil many of them had to give up their past life and accept the Roman Catholic religion and Portuguese culture instead.

In this blend of culture, the samba was born as a multi-cultural mishmash of music, song, and dance that Afro-Brazilians brought with them to the impoverished slums surrounding Rio following the abolition of slavery in 1888. It was not until 1917 that the samba became an important element of Rio’s Carnival.

Brazilian Carnival

Today, Samba is a significant piece of Brazil’s cultural heritage. Samba coursed through the city like wildfire, from the slums to the mansions. Even today, samba is sung in both high-class mansions and ghetto sheds, uniting the Brazilian people no matter their economic status. The Rios`s culture is founded on samba.

The carnival in Brazil is an exciting time for both tourists and locals. From the elaborate costumes to the vibrant music, it’s no wonder that thousands of people flock there every year to celebrate this unique cultural event. With so many people in one place, the carnival draws a lot of attention. The event is always televised and shared on social media. If you plan to attend this year’s celebration, be sure to dress colorfully!


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