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History of Carnivals in Rio by alexey ,  Feb 9, 2015

Carnival History

The first attempt to celebrate the Carnival in Rio occurred in 1641. While a far cry from Rio Carnival 2013, it nevertheless involved parties and masquerade balls akin to those held in European countries like France. With the arrival of the Portuguese immigrants in the 1700 the Carnival became more of a street event with revelers getting pelted with mud and water. These street fights eventually turned into the elaborate and prestigious parades of the 1800s. Even royalty enjoyed getting dressed up in elaborate costumes and marching down the streets of Rio.

Extravagant parties and masquerade balls made a comeback in the 1880s. They were an excuse to dance to the newly popular waltz and polka. During the 1890s military bands and elaborate floats were incorporated into the parades. In addition these parades became much more organized and were led by cordoes, groups of people who organized the revelry during the Carnival. Blocos are the cordoes of today and will be hosting many a block party during Rio Carnival 2013. They are easy to identify, as they will be dressed in matching t-shirts or elaborate costumes.

The origins of Brazilian Carnaval are remote and uncertain.  Some say they took place 10.000 years before Christ in rural celebrations, when men, women, and children wearing masks, and having their bodies painted and dolled up got together in summer, performing ritual dances to chase away the bad harvest demons or to celebrate the returning to work.  At winter, the fear of darkness and cold kept them inside their shelters all the time.  Others say carnaval history started later in the celebrations for Goddess Isis and Apis, the holy bull, amongst Egyptians, Goddess Hertsa amongst the Teutons, or even in the Bacchanals, Saturnalias and Lupercalias, amongst Greek and Romans.



Nicolas Poussin about 1627-1628 Oil on canvas, 121 x 175 cmParis, Musee du Louvre

Below, one of the first depictions about the Brazilian Carnival made by a famous painting in Brazil, Debret.

Carnival History

O entrudo no Rio de Janeiro, 1823Jean-Baptiste Debret ( França 1768-1848)Aquarela sobre papelMuseu da Chácara do CéuRio de Janeiro

The first records of Carnival festivities in Rio de Janeiro date back to 1723. Immigrants from the Portuguese islands of Açores, Madeira and Cabo Verde introduced here the Entrudo.

The idea was basically getting everybody soaked wet. People would go out in the streets with buckets of water and limes, and everybody could be a potential victim. Even Emperors took part in the fun. There's a curious record of a woman being arrested in 1855 for throwing a lime at Dom Pedro I's escorts. Authorities frowned upon the lack of restraints of Entrudo fun, and eventually it was outlawed.

Ranchos Carnavalescos are a contribution of an immigrant from Bahia named Hilário Jovino da Silva. They started in 1872 as working class festivity. People would dress up in costumes and perform on the parade accompanied by an orchestra of strings, ganzás, flutes, and other instruments. They were more organized than the Cordões, and gained popularity around 1911.

Ranchos Parade on Av. Rio Branco

Some guys dressed like women for the Carnival of Rio de Janeiro in 1913. | Click image for Comments. | Home

Below, one of the first carnival photos in Brazil: 1914

Carnival 1914

Below, a very rare 1915 photo of a woman in a car in costumes

Brazil Carnival History

Blocos de Sujos
In the end of the 20's some organizers of blocos felt the need to evolve, and found inspiration in the ranchos that were somewhat more organized. The term escola de samba (samba school) is credited to Ismael Silva, from Estácio. The samba gained more fluidity to be adapted to the evolution of the samba school. Mangueira, founded in 1928 is the first samba school. The nickname Estacao Primeira is because it is right at the first stop after train station Central do Brasil.
Carnival procession, Rio de Janeiro, 1940. | Click image for Comments. | Home
Rio Carnival music

Almost all of the music played during Rio Carnival is samba. It is a uniquely Brazilian music originating from Rio, a dance form that was invented by the poor Afro-Brazilians.

The word samba comes from the Angolan world semba referring to a type of ritual music. The word had a variety of meanings to the African slaves brought to Brazil during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. It meant to pray or invoke the spirits of the ancestors and the gods of the African Pantheon. As a noun, it could mean a complaint, a cry, or something like "the blues".

Since 1984, all the excitement of Rio Carnival has taken place at the Sambadrome, the purpose-built venue constructed specially for the occasion. Before its construction, the Samba parades were held on one of the most important streets in downtown Rio de Janeiro, Presidente Vargas Avenue.