Carnival in Brazil

Published: February 10, 2016

Like each particular form of Carnival around the world, Brazil is known for its unique brand of celebrating. Portuguese immigrants initiated the first Brazilian Carnival celebrations, with their particular Carnival brand, known as Entrudo, back in 1723. Everyone was filling the streets and throwing buckets of water, mud and even food at each other. It was total debauchery and bedlam. These early celebrations frequently ended up in fighting and riots. In the following years, Carnival became more organized, and attracted a high society crowd, with aristocrats parading around in spectacular costumery and masks. Later, during the 1840s, these elite revelers would throw elaborate masquerade balls in celebration of Carnival, where the music changed from calypso to polkas and waltzes. As the century neared its conclusion, the working class began to join the celebrating in large numbers, and the masks worn by everyone made class distinction impossible. While Carnival was grounded in the season of Christian holidays of Fat Tuesday and Lent, the mass hysteria indulging in excessive music, food, dancing and drinking greatly displeased the Roman Catholic church.

Rio Carnival

Rio Carnival
The world over, there is a significant consensus about Rio being the real deal of all the carnivals in the world, and this is why Rio is known as the “Carnival Capital of the World.” Rio’s celebrating lasts for four days, beginning on Saturday and ending on Fat Tuesday, before Lent. People who have attended Carnival in Rio describe it as truly a once in a lifetime experience, not to be missed. The wild and exotic partying is very contagious. With a number of theories surrounding the true origin of Carnival, Rio’s influence of Afro-Brazilian culture in samba form brings a brand of cultural diversity to Carnival in Rio that is unique, and serves up enchanting Brazilian swing.

Carnival Magic, Afro-Brazilian Style
It was the Africans who passed along the pulsating samba rhythms to Brazil from the time of slavery, and during its abolition in 1888. It took some time for the samba to become the significant component of Brazil’s Carnival in Rio that it is today, but when it did, it spread like wildfire. The Brazilian people are proud that samba has nothing to do with economic or social class, as it lives as the quintessential heart of the Carioca culture.

Sambadromo, Rio Carnival
T photography /

The Sambadrome
Here is where you’ll find the center of attraction in downtown Rio. Location of the Samba Parade since 1984, the samba schools reveal mesmerizing and passionate women samba dancers who truly make the festival what it is.

Porta Bandeira
These gloriously decked-out women are the flag-bearers of each samba school, and in their wildly elaborate costumes with sequins and feathers everywhere, they compete for the attention of the crowds and the judges. These women put on the most impressive dance performances of all. Her protector is the Mestre Sala, whose job is to guide and watch over her while she’s dancing. His job originally included his brandishing a knife, but no longer. The Porta Bandeira can not allow the flag she is carrying while she dances to get wound around the pole it’s on, or touch her body. A breathtaking component of Carnival Rio!

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