The Brazil Carnival in 2019 is probably one of the biggest and most awaited celebrations this year. This festival begins on the Friday before Ash Wednesday. It ends at noon, on Ash Wednesday. Overall, the festival lasts for five days. The Carnival in 2019 will begin on March 1, and will end on March 6.

The Carnival signals the beginning of the season of Lent—a celebration observed by Christians all over the world. Lent commemorates the passion and death of Jesus Christ. During the Carnival, people throw themselves into celebrating in excess. That is, much singing, dancing, feasting, and drinking. This is because the whole point of the Carnival is to prepare for the fasting and abstinence that comes during the period of Lent. (In short, think of the Carnival as the final day of drinking and partying before the dreaded final exams week in university.)

Although celebrated in nearly 70 countries around the world, the Carnival is the most popular holiday in Brazil. In fact, hundreds of thousands of tourists flock to Brazil just to join in the festivities! Each city celebrates the Carnival in different ways. But the large outpour of food, music, and wine remains the same. In truth, the city of Salvador is consumes around 10 million liters of beer. Imagine, what more in Rio?

Without a doubt, the Carnival in 2019 will not be an exception.

When Did it Begin?

The Carnival has roots tied to the Roman Catholic faith. Portuguese immigrants introduced it to Brazil during the eighteenth century. Called Entrudo, people celebrated by throwing lime-scented water at each other. It was the working class who celebrated this event. They wore fabulous and over-the-top costumes to mock the lifestyle of the upper-class. The Tuesday before Ash Wednesday is also known by many names such as Fat Tuesday, Shrove Tuesday, Pancake Day, and Mardi Gras. In fact, the name carnival itself is derived from the Latin carne vale which means “remove meat”.

Since 1933, before the Carnival formally begins, the mayor of Rio hands over the keys to the city to a mythical figure named King Momo. According to the stories, King Momo, or Momus, was the Greek god of mockery. His sharp tongue and harsh criticisms caused him to be exiled from Mount Olympus. He then chose to settle in Rio where he became the patron of harmless fun. A jolly, fat man usually portrays King Momos.

 

What to Expect During the Carnival in 2019?

Here are some things people who plan to join in the Carnival in 2019 should know. First of all, in the city of Rio alone, more than a million people gather to celebrate the carnival. In fact, the Rio Carnival holds the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest carnival in the world. One of the things people watch out for during the Carnival, are the parades. The main parade is held in the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro. Samba schools are the main participants of parades. These schools spend a combined amount of almost $5 million on every show just for props and costumes.  Since samba schools are the main performers, samba music and dance dominate the Carnival.

Parades at the Sambodromo

carnival in 2019
Samba schools will spend a combined $4 million just to make these intricate costumes.

Parades are probably the most important aspect of the Carnival. Yearly, samba schools send their best performers to sing and dance during the parade. But the main event is the competition to be crowned “the best”. Here, the twelve best samba schools do their best to get the crown.

Different elements make up each parade. Samba schools enter with the comissão de frente or the “Front Commision”, which is made up of ten to fifteen members. The first of the six floats (abre-alas) of the samba school follows, and then comes the mestre-sala or “master of ceremonies, and the porta-bandeira or the “flag bearer”. The last section includes the dancers and other performers.

A sambadrome is specifically made for parades and performances.  It is like a huge stadium with seats that surround a large performance space. The most popular sambodrome is located in Rio de Janeiro. Each samba school has around 3000-6000 performers dressed in colorful and extravagant costumes.

Blocos

Blocos are street parties held throughout the country. These parties have varying themes that cater to all ages. Each bloco involves bands, alcohol, and people dressed in costumes acting wild. Visitors should expect around 600 blocos to occur in the Carnival in 2019.

Carnival Queens

If there is a Carnival king, then there is also a Carnival Queen. Usually, the Carnival Queen is a woman who won a beauty contest before or during the Carnival. Jéssica Maia was Queen of the Carnival Queen in 2018.

Samba

Samba music plays everywhere, throughout the Carnival. It is the heart of the carnival. In fact, each samba school parades through the sambadrome using their own samba music. Samba is a type of Brazilian music and dance style with African influences (particularly from Angola and Congo). Samba was born in Rio de Janeiro during the seventeenth century. The first samba music originated from a ritual dance with music set to drumbeats and handclaps.

Known as an international symbol of Brazil, samba perfectly shows the shared culture between Brazil and Africa. Visitors of the Carnival in 2019 should expect to hear a lot of samba music, and do a lot of samba dancing while there.

Booze… Lots of Boooze

carnival in 2019
Enjoy the outpour of booze at every bolco! Woot!

Since the Carnival gives the people enough reason to be hedonistic, visitors should expect a lot of booze. As mentioned above, the city of Salvador alone consumes around ten million liters of beer during the event.

 

For those who plan on taking part in the Carnival in 2019, here is a final word of advice: book early for next year. Most people had their bookings made as early as last year, since this is such a huge and much-awaited event.  But do not worry. You can still enjoy the Carnival through the television and the internet.

Have you participated in any bolco during the Carnival last year? Are you excited to attend this year? Please feel free to share your answers with us via the comments.

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