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Everything You Will Want to Learn About Rio's Carnival!

Due to the pandemic, one of the most famous parties in the World, Rio de Janeiro's Carnival, was postponed to start next week (April 20th to April 30th). The Samba Schools are rehearsing like crazy and everyone is so excited to see what will be paraded in the Sambodrome (the venue where everything carnival happens, the parades from samba schools and we get to see every detail really close), after a two-year gap!

Everything You Will Want to Learn About Rio's Carnival!

We got excited about this too and since our founder Rita Avellar is vacationing in Rio, we thought it was a good idea to bring a little bit of this party's inspiration and curiosities to you! It is one of the most creative businesses in Brazil and it keeps growing each year. Get your samba dance lessons ready, because you will not resist!

Everything You Will Want to Learn About Rio's Carnival!
Rita Avellar and her family on the last rehearsal of Viradouro Samba School in April 2022

Origins of Brazilian Carnival

Carnival is a festival of pagan origin, dating back to ancient times. In view of one of its main characteristics, the inversion of social roles during celebrations – such as slaves dressing up as masters, for example – the origin of Carnival can be found in Mesopotamia, Greece, or Rome.

In Brazil, historians date back to the Portuguese who possibly started the first celebrations of what we know today about the carnival. This happened around 1641 with the Entrudo, a party that could be very violent and consisted of throwing all kinds of liquids and a powder at others. Entrudo means entrance, marking the beginning of the period preceding the religious Christian tradion of Lent. In Brazil, it was practiced since the colonial period, mainly by slaves and the lower classes.

In 1841, the Entrudo was banned due to its violence and the people adapted the event in order to continue it. From 1855 to 1890 the early Brazilian carnival after almost being banned, was embraced by the elite (mostly because they wanted to censor the satires and criticism that came from the people and their costumes and messages) and started to be held in closed paid venues inspired by what was the Venetian Carnival, also with French inspiration. People in lower classes began bringing the party once again to the streets taking instruments and parading by foot, starting what we know today as Rio's street carnival, or Blocos. This way, as we can observe until today, Carnival plays an important social role and ooints out different layers of society while being ironic, satiric, and also celebrating the cultural inheritance such as African ancestry and religions who built the city's cultural background. In 1917 the first samba was created and in 1932 the first samba school contest took place. It was only in 1984 that the Sambódromo was made the main stage for the samba school parades.