A New Year Begins in Brazil

Though our calendar started on January 1st, 2011, in Brazil, we always say that the year really starts after carnival. In fact, only on Ash Day after midday. Many of our plans and projects are postponed to the after-carnival calendar, which was a problem this year if you consider that carnival was really late. We generally have it in February.

This year the celebration started on March 5th. Carnival true holiday should have been only on Tuesday, March 8th. In reality, it started on the previous Friday (March 4th), and for many, it goes up to the following Sunday (March 13th)! It is a week-long celebration where many Brazilians travel to enjoy themselves, move their hips, sing until there’s no voice left. For the ones who don’t enjoy the Carnival madness, it is time to rest, be with friends, just goof off and disconnect.

Unidos da Tijuca - champion 2010 Rio Carnaval  024

There are also the ones who spend the year in anticipation as they prepare themselves to parade in the Samba Schools of Rio or São Paulo. The people from the poor communities in Rio work hard all year long to be part of the magic happening for two days in the “sambódromo” – the place where the samba parade happens. They have to think of a theme for their show, sew their costumes, build the floats, write the lyrics, find the right beats, and rehearse to have the perfect performance.

That’s exactly what I experienced when I was in Rio a month ago. It was the last rehearsals, and my friends and I could get a feel of what it is like to be part of a community that sings, that cares, that is together for a cause, a grandiose moment of joy, when all the daily life hurdles are forgotten and all the duties are kept on hold for the Thursday after Ash Day.

It is magical. The colors, the “mulatas” swing, the non-stop beats. It is as if you can’t control your feet. You feel part of the community. Samba is just in you. And even if you are a foreigner, you’ll understand the power of Carnival that takes control of your body and soul.

Don’t get me wrong, though. Our calendars might be counted as pre and post-Carnival, but we are still hard workers. In my case, for example, my year just started in the regular January period, but there was a pause for the in-between Carnival period. It is simply that time of the year we can’t ignore…Who knows? Next year, you might want to join our Carnival calendar.

Read more:
Powerful women singers from Brazil
Chorinho – sophisticated Brazilian sounds
How to dress for trendy Rio

About the author

Carla Arena
A proud Brazilian teaching English in Brazil, interested in cultures, languages, people and lifelong learning.
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3 Comments

  • This was really interesting, esp since we will be celebrating our Tamil New year a month from now! and the celebration videos were great! seems to be a really enthusiastic beginning to the new year!

  • I’d love to be able to dance like that.

  • Dear Anu, carnival is certainly a wonderful way to begin the year! Yesterday, a cousin of mine just called me and said. Well, Carla, now that the year has begun, I just enrolled at the gym and will go on a diet!

    Liz, when you are listening to the “batuques” (beats), there’s no way you can stop dancing! You’d need to come to Brazil to practice a little.