The history of Carnaval in Brazil
Carnival(in Portuguese: Carnaval) is a Catholic event by origin, but is also rooted in European pagan traditions. Originally, Carnival was a food festival, because it was the last time to eat abundantly before the 40 days of Lent, a period of frugality starting on Ash Wednesday. Legend says the word 'Carnaval' was derived from the Latin expression 'carne vale' which translates as 'farewell to the meat'.
The unique characteristics of
Brazilian Carnavalare rooted in a cultural clash between the Portuguese and the Africans. The whites brought the festival from Europe (Entrudo, an alternative name for Carnaval in Portuguese) and the blacks had their rhythms, music and dance moves.
Gradually the tradition was created to go once a year onto the streets to have a party together. Musical styles and other customs merged over time.
Only in 1917 this culminated in the invention of the samba, very much a product of the mutual love for music of the former colonists and the former slaves.
Men in drag, Carnival Rio de Janeiro, 1930s
In Rio de Janeiro, the first
samba schoolswere established in the early 1920s; the first
samba parade competitionswere held in 1933.
the origin of Brazilian Carnival is very much the concept of ‘pretending’: social conventions are turned upside down. Only these few days of the year it is ‘allowed’ releasing appearances and pretending to be something or someone else.
The poor can wear expensive costumes, the rich can mingle in the streets with the common folk and dress down, men can wear women’s clothing, women can wear barely any clothing... During Carnaval in Brazil, your options are limitless!
Carnaval is a legitimate opportunity to let yourself completely go in order to forget all your day to day troubles. Basically, Carnival is a temporal escape into a fantasy world...