Many people have heard of Carnival, the Brazilian festival that takes place the week before Lent begins. While many believe it is a form of release for various vices that people will then say farewell to during the coming time of sacrifice, Carnival actually has a long and colored history. Here are five facts you may not have known.
Carnival was originally a Greek festival
While it went by a different name at the time, Carnival was once a celebration of the Greek god of wine. The Romans later adopted this festival for Bacchus, the Roman version of Dionysus.
The classic samba sound is from Africa
While many people think of samba music as part of the main celebration of Carnival, the truth is that it was introduced to Brazilian culture from enslaved Africans. The music only became a major part of Carnival celebrations in 1917, but it spread quickly through the city.
The Brazilian Carnival originated from Portuguese
Because many people would sacrifice a particular vice leading up to Lent (such as wine, meat, beer, etc.), Carnival was a way of ‘getting it out of their system’ before they lost access for a month and a half. That connotation still continues to this day.
Carnival has multiple styles
While the Carnival in Rio de Janeiro is the most well known, there are dozens of subtypes within that specific carnival. More than 100 block parades take place during Carnival in Rio, and that isn’t including the Bahia, Pernambuco, and Minas Gerais.
The ‘modern’ Carnival didn’t originate until the 1800s
The idea of wearing masks and dancing didn’t come into existence until the 1870s. Prior to that time, Carnival was celebrated in different ways, without the parades and wild music.
Carnival is something everyone should experience at least once in their life. No other celebration quite encompasses multiple centuries of history and tradition into such a vibrant package.