HISTORY OF CARNAVAL

HISTORY OF CARNAVAL

Brazil’s carnival is a unique combination of Portuguese and African culture. After the Portuguese colonized Brazil, they brought over what was originally a food festival as a last time to eat before fasting for the 40 days of lent. Gradually over time, the influence of African culture in Brazil brought in new rhythms, music and dancing, transforming the carnival into the party it is known for today.

The history of Carnival is complex with dates and origin stories often debated. However, one thing is clear; in Rio, the modern day samba school competitions in the Sambódromo, the massive bloco celebrations that fill the streets and the gala balls held in various locations all share a rich and interwoven history.

The observance of Carnival began, according to many historians, in Italy as a celebration held by Catholics, before Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, a six-week period of fasting and abstinence that ends at Easter.

Carnival is said to have then spread to France and then throughout Europe. Catholic Portuguese settlers of Brazil are credited with bringing the Pre-Lenten celebrations to Rio de Janeiro with the first recorded Carnival taking place during either the 17th or 18th century.

During the 19th century, different groups began to add to the celebrations in Rio. Some of there were “Grandes Sociedades” (Great Societies) which were luxurious parades held by aristocrats, also “Cordões” which were less organized groups of masked and costumed parading revelers.

The observance of Carnival began, according to many historians, in Italy as a celebration held by Catholics, before Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, a six-week period of fasting and abstinence that ends at Easter.

Carnival is said to have then spread to France and then throughout Europe. Catholic Portuguese settlers of Brazil are credited with bringing the Pre-Lenten celebrations to Rio de Janeiro with the first recorded Carnival taking place during either the 17th or 18th century.

During the 19th century, different groups began to add to the celebrations in Rio. Some of there were “Grandes Sociedades” (Great Societies) which were luxurious parades held by aristocrats, also “Cordões” which were less organized groups of masked and costumed parading revelers.

The birth of samba music in the city played a crucial role in the formation of what are considered contemporary Carnival celebrations in Rio. During this time, the groups known as Cordões gradually became blocos.

The birth of samba music in the city played a crucial role in the formation of what are considered contemporary Carnival celebrations in Rio. During this time, the groups known as Cordões gradually became blocos.

Over time, though, some of the blocos wanted to be become more organized. It was then that the Escolas de Samba (Samba Schools) were born. According to one version of the story, Deixa Falar, the first group to call themselves a “samba school”, did so because they held their meetings near an actual children’s school.