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Brazil's Carnaval

Updated on November 4, 2015

Brazil's Carnival

Brazil's 2008 Carnival
Brazil's 2008 Carnival

History of Brazil's 'Carnaval'

Brazil's Carnival (Carnaval in Portuguese) first came about around the 1850s in the city of Rio de Janeiro, which was introduced by the Portuguese. It is an annual event and it is celebrated the 40 days prior to the Easter holiday. It was inspired by the city's Bourgeoisie which originated from Paris. But it manifested into something different over time thanks in part to cultures of African decent. People would dress up in fancy exotic attire and play music and dance in the streets. Men would cross dress as women, the poor would dress up as princes and princesses and aristocrats would dress as common people.

The idea was that everyone became an equal during the Carnival and social statuses were temporarily set aside solely for this event. Brazilians used to get loud, obnoxious and cause boisterous mayhem in the streets until the government finally excepted 'Carnaval' as part of Brazilian culture.

One thing that a lot of people may not know is that Brazil has its own dark history of slavery. But it was the slave who helped contribute the most to the history of Brazil's Carnival. It's the black communities of the slums of Rio that are the most involved in the designing, creating, planning and participation of this annual event.

Over time, Brazil's carnival became more about competition then people dancing and singing in the streets. The main event took place down the street Avenida Rio Branco. The people paraded down the streets dancing and singing to an orchestra of strings, drums and other musical instruments. These people who took to the streets to sing and dance are known as "Carnaval blocos" (carnival blocks). And then you have the actual participants of the carnival itself, or as they are otherwise known as Samba schools (Escola de Samba).

At first, I remained a little confused about the differences between the carnival blocks and the Samba schools because I first thought that they were both the same thing, but, now that I know, let me explain to you the differences:

Carnival blocks (carnaval blocos) is a group of people - or organization of people - who basically belong to the same neighborhood that go out into the streets together to celebrate and identify themselves by dressing in the same shirts with logos. So, if you happen to see a bunch of people all using the same tee shirts, they are, more than likely than not, from the same carnival block. The Samba schools are the organizations that plan, create, and participate in the carnival.

They are the ones in the batteries playing the instruments, or on the floats showing off the exotic, colorful costumes - Brazilians call them fantasias - or the dancers strutting their stuff. The Samba schools make up parts of a culture and use that culture to create the "themes" for their shows. You'll see women in costumes that leave very little to the imagination who dance to Samba, which is a particular style of music and dance that every Brazilian knows.

Brazil's carnival has spread out to other regions of Brazil and has grown in world wide popularity. However, Rio's carnival - or carnival blocks - is still considered the must-see event when it comes to Brazil's carnival.

Main Attractions

I have put together some images in representation of Brazil's carnival for you to see in the next few sections of my Hub.

Part of Rio's main attraction
Part of Rio's main attraction
Some of the dancers that makes up part of a Samba school
Some of the dancers that makes up part of a Samba school
Many of the floats are theme based
Many of the floats are theme based

About the Competition

The main show in Rio de Janeiro is centered in the Sambadrome near downtown Rio. It runs for 4 entire nights while all the schools are being judged by the respective categories. Each school and all its participants remain at their best while they remain in the spotlights of the cameras. The competition is divided up into 10 judging categories that include:

  1. Costume
  2. Flow
  3. Theme
  4. Music quality and performance

If you've ever witnessed Brazil's carnival for yourself and noticed how lively, excited and professional the people seem to be, that would be why. Because they literally are "in the spotlight" and they have more than the world to impress. The actual name of the organization that does the judging is called LIESA

I have not personally been to one of the BIG hitter shows in Rio de Janeiro. So, the majority of the images I have to share with you in today's Hub were passed on by someone else and were not taken by yours truly.

Brazil Carnival Facts

  • One of The first registered Samba schools was called Deixa-falar
  • The first Samba school competition began in 1929
  • The carnival competition actually takes place in a place in Rio callled the Sambadrome.
  • Every year about a half a million tourists flock to Salvador for its version of Brazil's carnival.
  • The regions of Brazil most involved in carnival are: Rio de Janeiro, Bahia, Pernambuco, São Paulo and Minas Gerais.
  • Nearly 1 million tourists attended the Rio carnival in 2015.
  • Brazil's 2015 carnival generated nearly $650 million.
  • Celebrities the likes of Will Smith, Megan Fox, rapper Kanye West were among those who attended the 2015 carnival.
  • Samba schools are expected to spend up to £3 million preparing their themes for carnival.

Brazil Carnival Music

2015 Brazil Carnival

Your Comments Welcomed

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    • Danielspages2013 profile image

      Daniel Baker 2 years ago from João Pessoa, Paraíba, Brazil

      Thank you for the comment michelgf.

    • michelgf profile image

      Michel Golfe 2 years ago from Itapema, SC, Brasil

      Great Hub, Brazil is amazing