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DECK THE HOLIDAY'S: 03/22/11

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

BRAZILIAN CARNIVAL!!!

  



    The Carnival of Brazil, is an annual festival held 46 days before Easter.  On certain days of Lent, Roman Catholics and some other Christians traditionally abstained from the consumption of meat and poultry, hence the term "carnival", from  carnelevre, "to remove meat".  Carnival celebrations are believed to have roots in the pagan festival of Saturnalia, which, adapted to Christianity, became a farewell to bad things in a season of religious discipline to practice repentance and prepare for Christ's death and resurrection.






   Rhythm, participation, and costumes vary from one region of Brazil to another.  In the southeastern cities of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, huge organized parades are led by samba schools.  Those official parades are meant to be watched by the public, with mini parades ("blocos") allowing a public participation can be found in other cities.  The northeastern cities of Salvador, Porto Segur and Recife have organized groups parading through streets, and the public interacts directly with them.  This carnival is heavily influenced by African-Brazilian culture.  Crowds follow the trio electricos floats through the city streets.  Also in northeast Olinda,  carnival features unique characteristics, part influenced by Venice Carnival mixed with cultural depictions of local folklore.





   Carnival is the most famous holiday in Brazil and has become an event of hug proportions.  The country stops completely for almost a week and festivities are intense, day and night, mainly in coastal cities.  The consumption of beer during the festival  accounts for 80% of annual consumption and tourism receives a 70% boost of  annual visitors.  The government distributes condoms and launches an awareness campaign at this time to prevent the spread of AIDS and other STD's.

History of Carnival

   The modern Brazilian Carnival originated in Rio de Janeiro in 1641, when the city's bourgeoisie imported the practice of holding balls and masquerade parties from Paris.  It originally mimicked the European form of the festival, later absorbing and creolizing elements derived from Native American and African cultures.
   In the late 19th century, the cordoes (cords, laces or strings) were introduced in Rio de Janeiro.  These were pageant groups that paraded through city avenues performing on instruments and dancing.  Today they are known as Blocos (blocks), consisting of a group of people who dress in costumes or special t-shirts with themes and/or logos.  Blocos are generally associated with particular neighborhoods.  They include both a percussion or music group and an entourage of revellers.





   Block parades have become an expressive feature of Rio's Carnival.  Today, they number more than 100 and the groups increase each year in size.  Blocos can be formed by small or large groups of revelers with a distinct title with an often funny pun.  They may also not their neighborhood or social status.  Before the show, they gather in a square, then parade in sections of the city, often near the beach.  Some blocos never leave one street and have a particular place, such as a bar, to attract viewers.  Block parades start in January, and may last until the Sunday after Carnival.





   Samba schools are very large groups of performers, financed by respected organizations who work year round in preparation for Carnival.  Samba schools perform in the Sambadrome, which runs 4 entire nights.  They're part of an official competition, divided into 7 divisions, in which a single school is declared the winner, according to costume, flow, them, and band music quality and performance.  Some samba schools also hold street parties in their neighborhoods, through which they parade along with their followers.
   Carnival time in Rio is a very interesting, but also the most expensive time to visit Rio.  Hotel rooms and lodgings can be up to 4 times more expensive than the regular rates.  There are big crowds at some locations and life is far from ordinary in many parts of town.





Sambodromo

   The Carnival parades in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo take place in the Sambodromo, locate close to the city center.  In the city of Rio, the parades start at roughly 9-10 p.m., depending of the date and end around 5 in the morning.  The Rio Metro (subway) operates 24 hours during the main parade days.
   The actual amount of spectators in the Sambodromo may be higher than the official number of seats available.  Like any other event the better the seats the higher the price for them.



Music

 Samba
   The Samba originated in Bahia from the African rhythms, it was brought to Rio around 1920 and is still one of the most popular styles of Brazilian music, together with Samba-pargode and Samba-reggae.  From intimate samba-cancoes ( samba songs) sung in bars to explosive drum parades performed during Carnival, samba always evokes a warm and vibrant mood.  Samba developed as a distinctive kind of music at the beginning of the 20th century in Rio.  In the 1930's, a group of musicians led by Ismael Silva, founded in the neighborhood of Estacio de Sa, the first Samba school, Deixa Falar.
   In the following years, samba has developed into several directions, from the gentle samba-cancao to the drum orchestras which  make the soundtrack of carnival parades.  One of these new styles was the Bossa Nova.






   In the beginning of the 1980's, after having been sent underground due to styles like disco and Brazilian rock, the Samba reappeared in the media with a musical movement crated in the suburbs of Rio.
Axe'
   This is not exactly about style or musical movement, but rather about a useful brand name given to artists from Salvador who made music in northeastern Brazilian, Caribbean and African rhythms with a pop/rock twist, which helped them take over the Brazilian hit parades since 1992.  Axe' is a ritual greeting used in Candomble' and Umbanda religions, and means "good vibration".  The word music was attached to Axe', used as slang within the local music business by a journalist who intended to create a derogatory term for the pretentious dance-driven style.