É, Carnaval! Posted by on Feb 12, 2010 in Culture, Customs, Vocabulary

When most people think of Carnaval in Brazil, they think about the big parades in Rio de Janeiro or São Paulo with their decorated floats, gorgeous women dancing samba and adorned in [just] glitter, and percussion bands.  Others also think of the carnaval street parades in Bahia where the biggest Axé stars parade around in floats with their bands and screaming and dancing party-goers are at their sides for days on end.

What most people don’t know is, Brazilians still celebrate to this day, the most original form of carnaval, the carnaval de rua – literally “street carnaval.”  These festivities usually last from the Friday-Tuesday before Ash Wednesday of every year.

Many small towns in the Northeast, such as Recife, and Ouro  Preto in Minas Gerais are famous for their carnavais de rua where they parade around in blocos.  There are bands and parades and costumes but the people who make them come alive are the carnaval goers themselves!  Many other smaller towns in the interior, or countryside all over the country celebrate carnaval this way, and this year I’m going to join in on the folia!!

Some Carnaval vocabulary:

Escola de Samba – Samba school – the organizations that put together individual parades in Rio de Janeiro & São Paulo

Bloco carnavalesco – A group of people who parade during Carnaval in a semi-organized fashion, usually wearing the same costume

Carro alegórico – Carnaval floats

Sambódromo – Architectural space where Carnaval parades are held.  Usually made up of stands and catwalk-type space for the parade

Abadá – costume carnaval goers purchase in order to take place in blocos carnavalescos

Hope you all have a wonderful Carnaval!!

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  1. Josefina:

    Where can I find live coverage online for Carnaval in Salvador?

  2. Eric Harvey:

    Carnival da rua is the only carnival that I know!

  3. polyana:

    josefina, terra has great coverage if you’d like to check it out! !


  4. Vintage Barber:

    I enjoyed the blog on carnaval and learned a lot. However, I must take issue with describing Recife as a “small town”. It is understood that Rio will get most all of the attention but that in itself does not make it the best carnival in Brasil.

    Thankfully a following blog has given Recife more attention. Bigger does not always mean better. Many say the best carnaval event is in Recife, Pernambuco.