Yes, Carnaval is the best known in Brazil, the first thing you think of when someone mentions the country, and there is at least some idea in the minds of people from all over the planet about this great event. Rhythms and colors, costumes and dance. A huge cultural display and the promise of infinite celebration and fun.
Like many other parties, the idea of Carnaval dates back to Roman and Greek traditions even if it does not depend entirely on them. In Brazil it is also the result of consolidated customs at the time of European colonization and the slave trade; typical carnival dances have African influence and were a way of celebrating freedom as well as opening a space to blur social roles thanks to costumes, music and agitation. It is also said that the Portuguese were the ones who started the tradition, with mask parties, much more sober than the current ones, in which waltzes and polkas were danced.
The Carnaval is a mixture of influences and traditions that also includes the particular ingredients of each region where it is celebrated. Because one thing is the Carnaval of Rio de Janeiro, the most famous, and another thing is the Carnival of Brazil, which is celebrated in almost every city and town in the country, starting four days before Ash Wednesday. Travelers can choose to experience Carnaval in multiple ways, visiting the different cities, which offer particular rhythms and flavors, always sharing their personal magic with the visitors.
Carnaval in Salvador de Bahia
It is one of the most popular after Rio, and it happens on the streets of the city for 10 days! It is danced to the rhythm of the axé that plays in giant trucks with platforms and sound systems, where artists play live around a circuit around the city. There is a party for everyone, buying tickets to enter the stages or simply walking freely through the streets to enjoy the alternative version.
Carnaval in Olinda
Neighbor of Recife, capital of Pernambuco, the colonial town of Olinda sings and dances to the sound of the frevo, coco, ciranda and maracatu. Walking through the cobbled streets, revelers encounter giant dolls that embody traditional characters such as Zé Pereira, his partner Vitalina and the famous Midnight Man. Everything at the Olinda carnival and other cities in the state of Pernambuco encourages a playful and fun atmosphere
Rio de Janeiro, much more than a Carnaval
It is four days of official Carnaval in the Sambadrome, but it is 361 days of preparation for its participants. It is part of the culture in such a big way, that samba schools work all year in costumes, carriages and dances. The most interesting are the social and cultural projects that have emerged as a result of this, such as the Pimpolhos da Grande Rio, a school that since its foundation has been developing events, courses and shows so that people from all over the world can experience the carnival on any day of the year! At the same time, local communities take advantage of these initiatives at an educational, recreational and economic level. The Carnaval Experience, for example, is an incredible experience at the backstage of this event with costumes, dances and percussion, while directly supporting the children and families that participate in the project. Today, it is responsible for 65% of the association’s resources, which allows courses, workshops, tours, conferences and carnaval parades to be taken.
The Carnaval takes place forty days before Easter, thus marking the beginning of Lent, and it symbolizes the last profane days before the great religious festival. How to know exactly when it will be, if it depends on the celebration of Holy Week? Unsurprisingly, the answer has historical roots. We must take into account several details to calculate the exact dates and this is possible based on Computus. The Computus is the calculation used to determine Holy Week, and as such it will be the tool that we will use to deduce the dates of the Carnival of Brazil.
The fundamental thing to keep in mind is that Holy Week cannot be before February 22, nor after April 25, the first Easter Sunday, nor can it coincide with Jewish Easter Sunday. From these elements it is possible to calculate Holy Week. Then it is enough that we count forty days before, four before Ash Wednesday.
From this small calculation we have the start day of our Carnaval. Easy, right? Don’t worry, if we lost you in the calculation, next you’ll see the dates for the coming years.
So, it happens in February but now you know that the rest of the year, Brazil is more than prepared to welcome thousands of locals and travelers who don’t want to miss this experience. The important thing is coming and having a memorable experience that delivers lots of fun while motivating us to understand and share with the locals this cultural celebration, a pillar of Brazilian identity.