Even though they are inspired by European Christian traditions, the carnaval (carnival) festivities in Brazil go beyond the celebration of Mardi Gras.
They represent a major cultural element, national in scope, where the optimism of a better future for all citizens manifests itself. The “spirit of joy” of the party is frequently extended by events such as “micareta.”
Carnaval: A cultural legacy of European origin
The carnival celebration in Brazil dates back to the colonial era at the beginning of the 18th century. It was inspired by the Portuguese “Entrudo”, a rather brutal entry into Lent, characterized by street battles with water, eggs, flour, lemons and even paint.
From 1840, the festivities became more sophisticated and more bourgeois, with the introduction of disguises inspired by Venetian masked balls. These costumes were accompanied with specific music, dances and parades.
Under the influence of “high – society” and their philanthropic or civic movements, they then became parades of carros alegoricos (the ancestors of the floats), quite close to the modern carnival. The introduction of African rhythms and Samba in the first years of the twentieth century was down to their popularity.
Carnaval, when Brazil’s “spirit of joy” reaches its climax!
The anonymity, the almost complete freedom and the constant optimism associated with the carnival allow the Brazilians to celebrate a national “spirit of joy” during these days. The party brings together a very large part of the population, in a good-natured atmosphere – regardless of the social or ethnic origins of the participants.
The feelings of peace and fraternity that animate it also encourage “better living together”, with the search for innovative solutions to reduce inequalities. In this context, it also represents a prime moment for protest movements to expose their demands.
Carnival at Recife and Olinda enriched by “Frevo”
In Recife and Olinda, ancient colonial cities, the carnival is distinguished by its Brazilian and African influences. Picturesque, convivial, but also moving, it has an important place for frevo, a dance with frenzied rhythms, symbolic of the political and racial struggles of Nordeste.
Salvador de Bahia, Brazil’s busiest carnival
Salvador de Bahia hosts the busiest and most mixed carnival in Brazil . The folia often lasts from January to March in a very warm atmosphere! It is organized around spectacular neighborhood parades and “trios elétricos.”
Rio, the world famous carnival, extravagance and Samba!
Famous all over the world, Rio de Janeiro’s carnival mixes uninterrupted popular festivals and balls throughout the city. The magnificent parades of the samba schools are must – see events, during this festive time.