Celebrated nationwide, Carnival is definitely the most popular festival in Brazil. Full of colors and sounds, the party began with the enslaved population, back in colonial times. It was greatly influenced by the Entrudo, a Portuguese event where people went out into the streets and threw water on each other.
However, Carnival is a major celebration worldwide, as it is a traditional pagan feast from ancient times that was thrown as a way of thanking the gods for generous crops. During the Middle Ages, it was incorporated by the church and, since then, it takes place just before Lent (religious period when the consumption of meat is usually restricted).
The party we know today, with a lot of Marchinhas (typical songs) and street parades, started between the 1930s and 1950s. Since then, it grew exponentially and began to have different aspects in each region. However, some elements are classic, such as the first song ever written to celebrate it – “Ó Abre Alas” – which still rocks the Brazilian Carnival until now.
In the northeast region, the Folia (a Portuguese word for Carnival revelry) has many faces: in the city of Salvador, it is celebrated with the famous Carnival floats (known regionally as Trios Elétricos), which were created in the 1950s by Dodô, Osmar and Themístocles Aragão and, later, began to lead partygoers – popularly known as Foliões – along the Barra-Ondina circuit. In Pernambuco State, the frevo rhythm, and its dancers who carry colorful umbrellas, are the ultimate regional expression. In Recife, the parade that leads the crowds is called Galo da Madrugada.
Meanwhile, in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, besides the numerous street parades that entertain swarms of travelers from all over the country, there are also the Escolas de Samba – Samba School Parades, which have two major venues: Marques de Sapucaí, in Rio, and Sambódromo do Anhembi, in São Paulo.