Carnival in Rio De Janeiro is truly a great wonder of the world. It is full of color, live action and some of the most amazing costumes you have ever seen. Did I mention the amazing people you will meet there. The foods, drink and culture of Carnival is an experience we all should enjoy at least once. However, there is a reason behind this most famous parade and celebration.
Although there are over 500 festivals going on all over Brazil during Carnival, this originally started as a Samba competition. Samba, which is the focal dance and at the heart of Carnival, was believed to be born in Brazil in the early 17th century. Pedra do Sal is the site of a former slave market. It became popular to the Afro-Brazilian culture as a meeting place and socialization hangout. Here it is believed that the first Samba, which is a ritual Candomble dance, was composed. It uses mostly drums and handclaps.
As a result, Samba instruction and teaching schools were created. Most of the students originally came from the poor to middle class citizens. They competed with other Samba schools to see who had the best Samba dance. They made elaborate costumes and floats. Everyone from the smallest child to the oldest adult was in full makeup and costume. The featured dancers, or more experienced dancers, rode on the floats. The others would literally dance down the street all around the float to represent their school.
As the word spread about this amazing phenomenon, more and more people would attend to watch the beautiful schools show their costumes and floats parade down the street. Once the word got out, more and more schools attended this competition. Carnival in Rio is a 40-day event. There are multiple festivals going on all over Brazil. However, the focal point is the parade of dancers.
The schools are categorized. According to their level, they will then be placed on which day they are to perform their routine. Each category can take up to 2 days to finish. Judging is done throughout the event. However, the champion is not announced until the day AFTER Carnival is over.
Origins of Carnival
The origins of Carnival date back as far as the 1600’s. The Natives would have elaborate celebration in honor of the Greek God of wine. YEP, you heard correctly. Carnival started out as a festive for the grape harvest to honor the Wine god!! See a great wine factors into every major celebration all over the world in every era!!! Dionysus is the god of wine and pleasure. Trust me, if you drink a truly fine wine, it is a great pleasure to be had!!
Over the years, Portuguese rituals blended in with the original celebration to include structured dances and competitions. Food and wine has always been the focus. In the 1800’s, the First RIO masquerade took place. This was the tip of the iceberg. After that is just got bigger and bigger and other influences added to the festival. In the early 1900’s, the Samba dancers had a major impact on the festivities. Since then, that has been the focal point of the amazing Carnival Rio de Janeiro.
Did you know the over 2 million people are on the streets constantly during Carnival? So you can imagine the security they would need to police that many people. People book hotels and reservations years in advance. Everyone comes there knowing they are going to have a blast. With a Mardi Gras type atmosphere, every culture is represented.
Fun fact #2: There are over 500 different festivals going on during Carnival. Every province has their own celebration. Even ethnic groups as well as cultural group will have their own party or parade. So, when you go, check out the locals and see which group you would be more comfortable partying with.
Fact #3: Did you know that there is a QUEEN crowned every year for Carnival? There is also a king called King Momo.
#4 Fact: There is a facility that was built so you can attend and watch the Samba schools compete. It is a huge stadium type area. There you can purchase a ticket and go have a seat, order concessions and watch all the beautiful floats and costumes in relative comfort. However, it has been reported that the schools don’t find this quite as fun as they assumed it would be. They miss the interactions with the crowds and other party goers. However, there is an ordinance in affect concerning parades. Well not the parades but the block parties that are widely spread during Carnival.
This is the best part of Carnival to me…the food. I can just imagine all the various types of food you can find at Carnival. With all the various cultures spread throughout Brazil as well as economic situations, I bet you will find a plethora of food types.
Here are some more traditional foods that you can find while experiencing Carnival:
- Feijoada (slow-cooked pork and beans with rice),
- Moqueca baiana (a fragrant fish stew)
- Carurú (a dish similar to gumbo made with shrimp and toasted nuts)
- PÃO DE QUEIJO – Brazilian Cheese Bread
- CHURROS – well we all know where we can get some of those!!!
- BOLINHOS DE BACALHAU – Salted Cod, veggies and spices rolled into a ball and deep fried
- BRIGADEIROS – a dessert made with condensed milk, butter and cocoa. Then sprinkled with your choice of topping!!!
As you can see, so many different treats and foods to enjoy. Best yet, you can enjoy a cold beer or a great wine with either of them. Although during Carnival, beer is the drink of choice. However, as you experience Carnival at home, you can enjoy your own favorite wine with one of the amazing foods.
Join us on Wednesday, March 2, 2022 on our Wine and Dine show to see some amazing foods cooked by our club members as we travel to Carnival Rio de Janeiro in our own homes and Kitchens.
8:30 pm EST, 7:30 pm CST, 6:30 MST, 5:30 PST. See you there. Just follow the link below to join us. Bookmark this link so you can join us every Wednesday in the month of March to experience a different Theme and food and wine pairing. See you there!!
THE WINE AND DINE SHOW LIVE ON ZOOM EVERY WEDNESDAY: