The Carnival in Rio is a four day festival which takes place every year forty days before Easter (marking the start of Lent). The dates for Carnival vary from year to year depending on Easter Day. Usually Carnival is celebrated at the end of February. (Carnival 2019: Afternoon, March 1 - midday, March 6; 2020: Afternoon, February 21 - midday, February 26; 2021:Afternoon, February 12 - midday, February 17)
Carnival is undoubtedly the most popular celebration in Brazil and it is celebrated in all of Brazil's cities. These celebrations attract thousands of people from all over the world. Carnival expresses the culture, history, music, and images of Brazil. Brazilians, spell the festivity a bit differently - "carnAval" in Portugese.
The event and the parade which takes place in Rio de Janeiro is the most famous and richest Carnival in Brazil and, may be, in the whole world. A million tourists join millions of Rio de Janeiro residents (known as "cariocas") in the world's most fantastic party spanning several days and nights. From the Friday before Ash Wednesday to the following Thursday, the whole city shuts down for a wild celebration. In a city riven by poverty, Carnival represents a moment of freedom and release, when the aspirations of cariocas can be expressed in music, dances and songs.
The origin of the carnival lies in the ancient African and Portuguese traditions. Most historians believe Carnival was introduced to Brazil in 1723, with the immigration from the island of Madeira, Acores and Cabo Verde. It gradually changed along the years, assimilating local elements, especially from African culture.
The origin of Brazil's carnival goes back to a Portuguese pre-lent festivity called "Entrudo". Entrudo was a chaotic three-day street event where people in masks threw water, flour, and mud at each other and that often led to riots.
In 1840, the Italian wife of a Rio de Janeiro hotel owner changed the carnival celebration forever by sending out invitations, hiring musicians, importing streamers and confetti, and giving a lavish masked ball. Carnival street parades followed a decade later with horse drawn floats and military bands.
The carnivals reached a peak around 1930 when the samba schools started to emerge in Rio de Janeiro. The Samba is a unique Brazilian music and a dance form that was begun by the poor Afro-Brazilians. It grew out the Angolan word "samba", which translates as pelvic movements and the African rite of reproduction. A samba dance that includes a partner is the Samba de Gafieira. The movements in this samba developed out of the polka, tango, waltz, and another samba music called Choro.
Nowadays Rio's Carnival is the most impressive and the best-organized carnival in Brazil. The highlight of the Carnival is the Parade at Marques de Sapucai, or "Sambodromo", where different Samba schools (the collective of people from the same neighborhood, usually a working class community is designated as a "school") fight for the title of Carnival Champion. Sambodromo is a huge stadium designed by the renowned architect Oscar Niemeyer and open only for Carnival.
Samba rhythms, fantastically dancers, splendid costumes, live colors, and beautiful women are the main ingredients of this great competition. Samba Schools may take to the Parade anything from 3,000 to 5,000 members. Each school devotes its performance to one theme - politics, art, music, nature, sport - all the themes should be Brazilian. The school creates its own song, costumes and choreography. The rehearsals began several months before the carnival.
Official judges analyse the performance of each school under several criteria (rythm, costumes, timing, audience response, etc). A grade from 0 to 10 is given and the school with more points is the winner.
The Carnival in Rio de Janeiro is a fabulous event where people dance, sing, party, and have a lots of fun. One of the greatest parts of the Carnival is that it also provides entertainment for many people around the world, and it gives others a chance to learn about the culture of Brazil.
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