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Carnival in Rio de Janeiro

The Brazilian Carnival (Carnaval do Brasil) is an annual festival held in many cities in Brazil 40 days before Easter, marking the beginning of Lent. During Lent, Roman Catholics refrain from any bodily pleasures. That is why the Brazilian carnival, as an act of parting with pleasure, takes place on the eve of fasting.

There are several versions of the origin of the Brazilian carnival. According to one of them, it is based on the Poteshny Day, introduced in the 17th century by the Portuguese, which was accompanied by songs and dances, when it was decided to fool each other in various ways, pour water on it, throw in raw eggs and beans.Soon black slaves, brought to Brazil from Africa, joined this fun, bringing there colorful customs from their homeland. By the 20th century, the Brazilian carnival absorbed elements of carnivals in Italy and France. It was then that masks, fantastic costumes and characters came to the Brazilian holiday. Also appeared regional variations of the carnival.

In 1928, the first samba dance school was established in Rio and since then the tradition of carnival parades of samba schools has spread to other cities. The biggest parades of samba schools are the carnival in Rio, as well as the carnival in São Paulo. In these cities there are special sambadroms, where samba school performances actually take place, entrance for the audience is paid there (but all street processions, of course, are free).

However, the tradition of street carnivals, in which everyone who wishes can participate, has not disappeared even today. It has been preserved mainly in the northeast of Brazil, in the cities of Salvador, Recife and Olinda. Hundreds of thousands of people go out to walk along the roads of the city, dance, sing, have parties and have fun. In these cities, parades are held not only under the rhythms of samba, for example in Recife and Olinda – under the rhythms of marakatu, afoshi and frevu.

Brazilian Carnival is the country’s largest national holiday and the most famous holiday of Brazil. At the time of its holding, life in the country completely freezes, the holiday is celebrated day and night, 50% of the annual beer consumption falls during this period and 70% of tourists come to Brazil at this particular time.

The Carnival in Rio de Janeiro takes place once a year in the month of February (the height of the Brazilian summer). The feast begins on the preceding Saturday of Great Lent and lasts for 4 days and 4 nights until Quartile Wednesday (Quarta-feira de cinzas).

This festival is organized with the participation of the Ministry of Tourism and the Samba School League, and its holding is broadcast to almost all TV channels.

The carnival begins with a symbolic transfer by the city mayor of the keys to Rio de Janeiro to the “king of carnival”, who, for the duration of the celebration, becomes the full owner of the city.

The main feature of the carnival in Rio de Janeiro is that it is not an improvised procession with dances and songs, but a well-rehearsed theatrical procession-competition of samba schools in which up to 4,000 people participate from each school at a time.

Each samba school a whole year very carefully prepares for this holiday, everything is thought out to the smallest detail, the theme of the performance is chosen, music and choreography are prepared, unique costumes are created and moving platforms are made out.

Forty members of the jury will evaluate each item: the cohesion of the team, the rhythm of the drums and their consistency with the dance and singing, and, of course, the overall impression.

One of the most important people during the march of the school is the woman-standard-bearer who heads the car, and the score also depends largely on her performance.

Every day more than two million people take part in the carnival on the streets of the city, but the main carnival procession takes place at Sambodrome, a special 700-meter street designed for carnival, with stands and boxes for 90,000 spectators. The parade of samba schools at Sambodrome begins in the evening at 21 and can last for 10 hours.

First in Sambodroma there is a school that won last year’s carnival, and then the rest of the schools go on the list. First, the name of the school is carried, then its employees and celebrities in carnival costumes come, followed by thousands of dancers and musicians, as well as brightly decorated playgrounds on wheels, near which elite dancers “passistas” dance.

To complete the screenings of the samba schools with the Parade of Champions, which will be determined by a competent jury. According to the results of the carnival, the school is chosen – the winner, which is awarded a cash prize.

Below is information about the dates of the carnival in Rio de Janeiro for the coming years:
In 2019 – March 2-5
In 2020 – February 22-25

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