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Brazilian carnivals and Carnival in Rio de Janeiro

This Grand event takes place in the month of February, and how exactly, we will learn from this article.

Carnival in Rio de Janeiro

The Brazilian carnival (Carnaval do Brasil) is an annual festival held in many cities in Brazil 40 days before Easter, marking the beginning of Lent. During Lent, Roman Catholics abstain from any bodily pleasures. That is why the Brazilian carnival, as an act of farewell to pleasures, takes place on the eve of lent.

There are several versions of the origin of the Brazilian carnival. According to one of them, it is based on the “Fun day” introduced in the 17th century by the Portuguese – a holiday accompanied by songs and dances, when it was customary to fool each other in all sorts of ways, pour water over them, throw raw eggs and beans. Black slaves brought to Brazil from Africa soon joined the fun, bringing back colorful customs from their homeland. By the 20th century, the Brazilian carnival had absorbed elements of the carnivals of Italy and France. That’s when masks, fantastic costumes and characters came to the Brazilian holiday. Regional variations of the carnival also appeared.

In 1928, the first Samba dance school was established in Rio, and since then, the tradition of carnival parades of Samba schools has spread to other cities. The largest parades of Samba schools are just the carnival in Rio, as well as the carnival in Sao Paulo. In these cities, there are special sambadromes, where Samba schools actually perform, and the entrance fee for spectators is paid (but all street processions are, of course, free).

However, the tradition of street carnivals, in which everyone can participate who wants, has not disappeared today. It is preserved mainly in the North-East of Brazil, in the cities of Salvador, Recife and Olinda. Hundreds of thousands of people take to the streets to walk along the city’s roads together, dance, sing, party and have fun. In these cities, parades are held not only to the rhythms of Samba, for example in Recife and Olinda-to the rhythms of marakatu, afoshi and frevu.

The Brazilian Carnival is the country’s largest national holiday and the most famous holiday in Brazil. At the time of its holding, life in the country completely freezes, the holiday is celebrated both day and night, 50% of the annual consumption of beer falls on this period and 70% of tourists come to Brazil at this time.

Carnival in Rio de Janeiro

Carnival in Rio de Janeiro takes place once a year in the month of February (the height of the Brazilian summer). The festival begins on the Saturday preceding Lent and continues for 4 days and 4 nights until “Ash Wednesday” (Quarta-feira de cinzas).

This celebration is organized with the participation of the Ministry of Tourism and the Samba Schools League, and it is broadcast on almost all TV channels.

The carnival begins with the symbolic transfer of the keys to Rio de Janeiro by the city mayor to the “king of carnival”, who becomes the full owner of the city for the duration of the holiday.

The main feature of the carnival in Rio de Janeiro is that it is not an impromptu procession with dances and songs, but a well-rehearsed theatrical procession-a competition of Samba schools, in which up to 4,000 people from each school participate simultaneously.

Every Samba school prepares very carefully for this holiday for a whole year, everything is thought out to the smallest detail, the theme of the performance is chosen, music and choreography are prepared, unique costumes are created and moving platforms are designed.

Forty members of the jury will evaluate each item: the team’s cohesion, the rhythm of the drums and their consistency with dance and singing, and, of course, the overall impression.

One of the most important people during the school’s March is the female flag bearer, who leads the car, and the score also largely depends on her performance.

Every day, more than two million people take part in the carnival on the streets of the city, but the main carnival procession takes place at the Sambodrom – a special 700-meter street designed for the carnival, with stands and boxes designed for 90,000 spectators. The parade of Samba schools at the sambodrom starts at 21 in the evening and can last for 10 hours.

The first school in Sambodrom is the winner of last year’s carnival, and then the other schools go on the list. First they pass the name of the school, then they go to its employees and celebrities in carnival costumes, followed by thousands of dancers and musicians, as well as brightly decorated platforms on wheels, near which the elite dancers “passistas” dance.

The Samba schools will end with a Parade of Champions, which will be determined by a competent jury. At the end of the carnival, the winning school is selected and awarded a cash prize.

Below is information about the dates of the carnival in Rio de Janeiro in the coming years:

In 2014-March 1-4

In 2015-February 14-17

In 2016-February 6-9

In 2017-February 25-28

In 2018-February 10-13

In 2019-March 2-5

In 2020-February 22-25


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