Samba! Feathers! Glitter! Streamers! Confetti! — Carnaval has officially begun in Brazil!
A little bit of history
Did you know that the word carnaval is believed to derive from the Latin phrase carnem levare which means “to remove meat”? Carnaval, like Mardi Gras in the U.S. or Karneval in Germany, is a pre-Lenten celebration that ends on Ash Wednesday and has its roots in European Catholicism (or in earlier pagan traditions, depending on your source!).
Carnaval in Brazil is a transcultural phenomenon and its history is inextricably linked to European colonialism and African slavery. The Portuguese settlers of Brazil introduced Entrudo (another name for Carnaval) during the 18th century. Initial celebrations evolved over the years and took on the form of masquerade balls, polka dances and waltzes. At this point, festivities were still clearly delineated according to social class—there were “Grandes Sociedades” for aristocrats, “Ranchos Carnavalescos” for the working-class, and “Cordões” for the lower classes…
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