Brazilian Carnival is celebrated on the Friday before Ash Wednesday and the upcoming date falls on February 17. The carnival is marked by colorful costumes, samba music and dance, grand parades, and food festivals. It is the perfect opportunity to engage in overindulgence before starting the period of Lent. The Carnival depicts different cultures, primarily Portuguese and African. A lot of tourists from all around the globe are eager to experience the world’s biggest carnival. Brazilian Carnival fills the atmosphere of Brazil with joy, enthusiasm, and amusement.
History of Brazilian Carninval
Brazilian Carnival is a perfect blend of various cultures. The word ‘carnival’ comes from the Latin words ‘carn’ for ‘flesh’ and ‘levare’ for ‘put away.’ The first-ever pre-Lent carnival was held in Italy. Carnival signals the start of the Christian 40 day period of abstinence, commonly called Lent. The observance of these carnivals spread to France, Spain, and other European countries. It further spread to America from where it reached Brazil. Brazilians added the parade and samba music to it and turned it into a wild party with lots of extravagant floats.
The first-ever Brazilian Carnival dates back to 1641 when Portuguese immigrants threw water at each other to celebrate Dom João IV’s coronation as the king of Portugal. The influence of African culture can be seen greatly in the Brazilian Carnival. During Portuguese rule, African slavery affected the celebrations of the Carnival. In fact, all the traditional costumes that can be seen during the Carnival are inspired by African slaves.
The Carnival is characterized by a special dance and music known as samba. The Angolan slaves shared their love for samba and from then on it became an integral part of the Carnival. The popularity of samba reached its peak in the 1920s when samba schools were established in Brazil and, in 1932, the first-ever samba school parade took place. Now, the Sambadrome is the main attraction of the Carnival, where 13 top samba schools perform. It is a large avenue that can host almost 90,000 people. Brazilian Carnival is the largest carnival in the world with jaw-dropping performances.
Brazilian Carninval timeline
Carnevale is first celebrated in Venice after which it spreads throughout Europe and eventually reaches Brazil.
In the early 1600s, the Portuguese arrive and settle in Brazil.
Portuguese immigrants celebrate the first carnival in Brazil and call it ‘Entrudo.’
A float collapses during the Rio Carnival, leaving a dozen people injured.
Brazilian Carninval FAQs
Is Carnival in Brazil dangerous?
Rio Carnival is one of the biggest carnivals in the world and attracts tourists internationally, thus, Brazilian police make sure that safety is observed throughout the festival.
Where is the best carnival in Brazil?
Rio de Janeiro offers the largest carnival celebrations with various activities like the samba school performances, food festivals, and grand parades.
What happens at Carnival in Brazil?
“The Brazil carnival in Sao Paulo happens at their Sambodromo and will be shown on national television in Brazil. Just like the Rio Carnival, the top Samba schools compete against each other and showcase their glamorous costumes and exhilarating dance moves with party-goers from all over the country joining in the fun,” states the Rio Carnaval website.
Brazilian Carninval Activities
Watch the samba school performances
Watch the performances of the samba schools, the main- and most unique attraction of the Brazilian Carnival. The dances take place in four groups. ‘Comissão de frente’ is the front commission, which sets up the style and mood of the performance. This is followed by the ‘abre-alas,’ which is the opening wing, the ‘mestre-sala,’ who is the master of ceremonies, and the ‘portabandiera,’ who is the flag bearer. The whole performance is absolutely breathtaking.
Enjoy the food festival
Nothing is better than stuffing yourself with some delicious food. Brazilian Carnival offers a vast variety of traditional Brazillian dishes such as feijoada, which is rice served with slow-cooked pork and beans; ‘moqueca baiana,’ which is a fish stew; or ‘caruru,’ which is made from shrimp and nuts.
Throw a street party
Don’t want to watch the samba performance? Well, there are so many other options, too. Gather your friends and throw your own cool street party. Carnival is all about wild partying before entering the fasting period of Lent. Get creative with your party ideas and have fun!
5 Fun Facts About Rio Carnival
Mocking rich people
Originally, the working class attended the Rio Carnival wearing costumes that mocked the rich.
Painting the sea
After World War I, the carnival's participants marched along the beaches and dove into the sea wearing crepe-paper costumes of which the dye colored the water for a few hours.
Formation of a theme
All the costumes worn by samba schools form a specific theme.
Price of the costumes
Each costume is made by hand and so prices range from $900 to $10,000.
February and March are the hottest months in Rio de Janeiro, thus, in the 1930s, people wore white clothes to deal with the heat during the carnival.
Why We Love Brazilian Carninval
It prepares us for the Lent period
Brazilian Carnival is the last opportunity to engage in any type of fun activity because it ends on Ash Wednesday when Lent starts. Most Catholics and Christians fast for six weeks and abstain from any type of party or fun during this period.
It tells us about the culture and history
Brazilian Carnival is an elaborate display of the rich Brazilian culture and the joy of life. The influence of African cultures can also be seen throughout the themes of the carnival. This shows us the history and culture of Brazil.
It is about social integration
Brazilians, as well as tourists from around the globe, all gather at one place to enjoy the festivities of Brazilian Carnival. An overall atmosphere of unity can be experienced here.
Brazilian Carninval dates