Brazilian Carnival

Katie Tipton, Staff Writer

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The Brazilian Carnival is a massive event held between February 24 and March 1 this year, a celebration that lasts a little under a week. Not many students know what Carnival is exactly.  Sophomore Samantha Weaver said that she thinks that “There’s a lot rides and games,” and sophomore Amber Wymer said, “They have parties, and there’s lots of people.” They managed to catch the general idea of Carnival; however, how the festival is celebrated depends on the region. Although, regardless of where you look, you’ll find that overall, the festivities are immense and that a feeling of unity seems to come over the whole country.

Carnival began in the 1830s to continue the Portuguese tradition of celebrating the days before Lent, the 46-day fasting period usually practiced by Roman Catholics to prepare for Easter. Eventually, street music and dancing were introduced to the festival, and things have only gotten more festive from there. Nowadays, the event consists of themed costumes, parades, food, live music, and floats. The turnout to these celebrations are usually insane, with the carnival in Rio de Janeiro alone pulling in a total of 4.9 million people in 2011, not to mention that 400,000 of them were tourists and foreigners.

There are many different ways that Carnival is celebrated. The Carnival in Rio de Janeiro is usually what first comes to mind when you think of Carnival, the style consisting of flashy costumes and floats from samba schools, dancing clubs and schools created for the purpose of practicing and exhibiting the African-Brazilian Samba dance. It is the largest carnival in the world, having about 2 million people in the streets every day, and it has more than 100 block parades with more than 300 bands taking part in the celebration.

Another state that has a unique celebration is Bahia, a northeastern state of Brazil. The Bahian carnival officially lasts for six days, and it takes place February 23 through March 1 this year. The Bahia style of celebrating carnival is fairly different from Rio’s way, a major difference being the music and the rhythms. Bahian Carnival consists of African rhythms like samba, samba-reggae, axé, and other musical styles indigenous to Bahia. In the 1880s the black population in Bahia decided to celebrate Carnival in their own way, which mainly consisted of dancing and playing instruments out in the streets. This was looked down upon by the upper-class white elite, and they were banned from participating in the official Bahian Carnival. Of course, the ban wasn’t very effective, and the black population continued to throw their own version of the carnival.

Pernambuco’s celebrations are also very lively. They mostly consist of parades in different parts of the state, but the biggest parade by far is the Galo da Madrugada. The name means “dawn’s rooster” in Portuguese, and, as the name suggests, it is only held in the morning. The Galo da Madrugada is named the world’s biggest parade by the Guinness Book of World Records, and for good reason; the parade once reached a total of 2.5 million participants. However, compared to other states’ festivals, there are no competitions held between bands or dance groups, and musicians and dancers alike play in the streets together.

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Brazilian Carnival