What is the country of Carnival?

You might have said “Italy” or “Germany” thinking about the popular festivals of Venice and Cologne, but most of the people asked would instinctively say  “Brazil”.

And they aren’t wrong. We Brazilians tend to say (and hear) that the year in Brazil really begins only after Carnival. Surely the country keeps functioning before, but somehow as a Brazilian you have the feeling there’s something missing. It’s because Carnival hasn’t passed yet. The Carnival is the last breath of the official summer vacations. Subconsciously we all know that there’s a hard working life full of daily duties just waiting for us. Once Carnival is over.

In Brazil the festivities have become an event of huge proportions. Some parts of the country seem to stop completely for a week while people massively celebrate day and night. According to statistics, during these few days tourism receives 70% of annual visitors and the consumption of beer accounts for 80% of the annual quote. Hundreds of thousands condoms are distributed by the government to prevent AIDS and some special campaigns are made focusing on this critical period of the year.

Though the parades in Rio and Bahia are the most famous ones, attracting tourists from all over the world, the ways of celebrating Carnival in Brazil are as variable as the country itself. That’s why here in Lexiophiles we will try to present you some aspects of the Brazilian Carnival that are hardly broadcast abroad.

Don’t worry though: we won’t ignore Rio. The so-called “biggest spectacle on earth!” is unavoidable when this topic comes about. Even if you don’t like Carnival at all, just like me.

Carnival in Pernambuco’s style

Pernambuco has unique Carnivals: the most famous ones are in the capital Recife and in its colonial capital Olinda – partly influenced by Venice Carnival, mixed with cultural depictions of local folklore.

Their main rhythms are the frevo, ciranda (dancers stand on their hands and dance in a circle) and the maracatu.

In Pernambuco’s capital the Carnival begins with the Galo da Madrugada (“dawn’s rooster”), which is the biggest carnival parade in the world (considering the number of participants), according to The Guinness Book of World Records. While Salvador and Rio include competitions in their festivities, Recife, Olinda and other cities in Pernambuco don’t. There are hundreds of small musical groups dancing and playing instruments side by side. In Olinda, Carnival is a popular street party, similar to traditional Portuguese carnivals, with the participation of the remarkable Giant Dolls. The Carnival in Pernambuco lasts longer: celebrations and maracatus begin one week before the official Carnival time and end a week later.

[Português]

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1 thought on “What is the country of Carnival?”

  1. As a Brazilian, I would like to add to this good report that most of people in Brazil, take advantage of the Carnival holiday to travel, rest or make money with the tourism industry. There is a distorted vision that Carnival here is sex, crime or mess, everywhere. TV shows (highlights) what the audience demands.

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