Carnival Brazilian Carnival History is richer, more varied and more interesting than most people think. There is much more to Carnival than just parties. The carnival can trace its roots back to an ancient Greek festival held each spring to honor Dionysus, the god of wine (“Brazilian Carnival in Rio”). The Romans adopted the festival to honor two of their gods, Bacchanalia and Saturnalia. During the Roman festival, slaves and masters would exchange clothes and spend the day in drunken revelry. The Catholic Church later modified the festival as a celebration leading up to Ash Wednesday (“Brazilian Carnival in Rio”).
The name Carnival originates from the Italian “Carnival” festival, which means “to remove meat” which was a tradition of dressing up in costumes and celebrate before the first day of Lent, (“The History of Carnival in Brazil”). Since Catholics are not supposed to eat meat during Lent the festival adopted that appropriate name. The carnival in Italy became quite famous and spread to France, Spain and other Catholic countries in Europe and part of that seems to have been brought back to Brazil during the Portuguese colonization of the country (“The History of Carnival in Brazil”).
Carnival was also brought to Rio by the French, but it wasn’t until 1850 (“The History of Carnival in Brazil”). Carnival blends African and native cultures in with the Catholic celebration before Lent. Brazilian carnival isn’t just one style. Part of the Brazilian Carnival history is that each area of Brazil has its own distinctive style. There are now 4 major styles. The style most commonly associated with Carnival is the Rio de Janeiro type (“Brazilian Carnival in Rio”). This style has the samba schools and big parades done by the schools.
There are over 100 block parades that take place in Rio during Carnival. The “School of Samba”, isn’t really a school, but a large gathering of dancers and musicians who become the teams that parade in the “Schools of Samba Competition” (“Brazilian Carnival in Rio”). These competitions are watched by people around the world. Rio’s Carnival is heavily influenced by the favelas, the poorest neighborhoods in the city. Favelas residents are often members of local samba schools and participate extensively in group performances (“Brazilian Carnival in Rio”).
Famous groups include Banda de Ipanema, Carmelitas, Cordao do Bola Preta and Suvaco do Cristo (Brazilian Carnival in Rio). Every neighborhood in the city has its own street band, with more than 300 bands participating in the revelry (“Brazilian Carnival in Rio”). The celebration is the culmination of months of preparation and brings many different types of people together. Bahia has a heavy Yoruba influence that is seen especially in the music. Bahia, located in the country’s northeastern region, incorporates its population’s African influences (Anderson).
The Carnival integrates reggae and traditional African rhythms with traditional samba music and dancing. Bahia’s Carnival features four main Carnival groups mostly broken down by costuming and music: Trios Eletrico, Indian, Blocos Afro and Afoxes. Trios Eletrico feature trucks equipped with speakers and a platform for musicians to play local music (Anderson). Indian groups derive their style from the United States’ Western movies and dress up as Native Americans, adopting Native American names throughout the celebration (Anderson). Blocos Afro groups derive their influence from the U.
S. Black Pride Movement and feature reggae music denouncing oppression and racism (Anderson). Afoxes derive their music from Candomble, an African-inspired religion (Anderson). Pernambuco is the next style. Pernambuco, in the northeastern region of Brazil, also features African influences in its Carnival (Anderson). Large parades and street dancing begin one week before Carnival begins, ending on Ash Wednesday. Groups include Crazy Lover, Olivia’s Underpants and The Midnight Man, which features a giant dancing doll as its group leader.
Pernambuco created Frevo music, which is predominant throughout the state’s parades and celebrations and has athletic and acrobatic movements (Anderson). Organized groups and improvising individuals dance side by side in the parades. The final style is Minas Gerais. This Carnival style is very attractive to young people and takes place around student housing. The Carnival is influenced by Rio de Janeiro and Bahia style (Anderson). It fuses the themes and adds to it, its own unique music of drums and bands (Anderson).
The important carnival parades in Minas Gerais are mainly held in Ouro Preto, Mariana and Diamantina are three college and historical cities that hold great “street blocks”. Samba is not the only “anthem” of Brazil’s Carnival: Axe is a musical style that these smaller cities adopted. There are also the “trio eletricos”, which are basic parade “trucks” that people follow in the streets with performers on the top of those trucks. Many people look at the costumes, or lack thereof, during Brazil’s Carnival and see nothing but an excuse to put pretty girls and handsome guys in almost nothing.
But, the costumes follow a theme. Each samba school or parade group chooses a theme (“Brazilian Carnival Costumes”). Over the years, every possible theme has been done such as; 2013 Prehistoric Carnival,2012 Sporting with Carnival,2011 Cooking with Carnival,2008 Carnival in the Sky,2007 Carnival on Broadway. Their creation requires a high level of understanding of the roles they are meant to play. Like music, even the costumes are influenced by the African heritage. Fabrics of different textures, mostly adorned with feathers and sequins, are used.
While designing such elaborate costumes, the freedom of movement to the dancers is an essential aspect. They take months and many man hours to make (“Brazilian Carnival Costumes”). An official costume competition is held at Hotel Gloria every year, which is the best place to view some of the most creative costumes at the Carnival. The theme is decided a year ahead of time and costume makers start immediately making them (“Brazilian Carnival Costumes”). Beside universal street food dishes like hot dogs, hamburgers and french fries, there is one carnival treat that’s particularly Brazilian.
Grilled meat-on-a-skewer, known as espetinho in Portuguese, is available everywhere, and millions are consumed daily (“The Street Food of Carnaval”). Espetinhos are rolled in crunchy, gritty farinha (toasted manioc flour) and topped with a spritz or two of hot sauce (“The Street Food of Carnaval”). To wash down those hot dogs, espetinhos and burgers, Brazilians overwhelmingly rely on beer (“The Street Food of Carnaval”). Just as push-cart food vendors are ubiquitous during Brazilian street parties, there’s always someone with a styrofoam cooler filled with icy beer within short distance during a street party.
Soft drinks, mineral water and alco-pop coolers are also available, but most revelers quench their thirst with plain old cerveja (beer). Brazilian carnival food is a nutritionist’s nightmare, generally meat-heavy, greasy and stodgy. It’s so closely associated with the festival that carnival food is unlikely to change any time soon. Just as for many Americans the main place they eat hot dogs is at the ball park, it’s an essential part of the ritual for many Brazilians carnival without a hot dog, or espetinho, is equally unthinkable.
Carnival, celebrated in Rio, is very similar to Mardi Gras celebrated in the United Sates. Mardi Gras in New Orleans was brought over by early French explorers in the 1700s. Eventually it blended with Creole customs in Louisiana (Browning). Mardi Gras and Carnival share many characteristics. Both festivals are about letting go of inhibitions before the piety of the most serious season of the Christian calendar. They involve huge floats parading through vibrant cities. There is lots of dancing, reveling and dressing in lavish costumes.
There are kings and queens from various groups who march in the parades and host balls for both Mardi Gras and Carnival (Browning). Throwing items out to parade attendees is completely unique to Mardi Gras in New Orleans. Carnival’s unique style of partying involves the samba. People on floats and parading around them dress in lavish costumes and instead of throwing objects to the crowds they dance rhythmically as they travel down the street (Browning). The beautiful land of Brazil plays host to the most celebrated event on the planet, the Rio Carnival, a weeklong celebration leading up to Lent in the Christian calendar.
Known as the Greatest Show on Earth, thousands of visitors from all over the world flock to Rio to experience sensational parades with the mesmerizing beats of the samba drums, and most importantly, costumed samba dancers in attire ranging from the intricately designed to the outrageous. While carnival parties are held throughout the city, the main action takes place at the Sambadrome where twelve Samba schools strut their stuff at the Samba Parade. This is a beloved tradition in Brazil that brings everyone together during this celebration. Work Cited
Anderson, Caryn . “What Is the Carnival in Brazil?. ” USA Today. USA Today, n. d. Web. 19 Mar 2013. <http://traveltips. usatoday. com/carnival-brazil-100582. html>. “Brazilian Carnival Costumes. ” Brazil Culture and Travel . N. p. , n. d. Web. 19 Mar 2013. <http://www. brazilcultureandtravel. com/brazil-carnival. html>. “Brazilian Carnival in Rio”. Famous Wonders. Famous Wonders, n. d. Web. 19 Mar 2013. <http://famouswonders. com>. Browning , William. “Mardi Gras vs. Carnival. ” Yahoo News. Yahoo News, 4 march 2013. Web. 19 Mar 2013.