Reading – Carnival in Brazil
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Reading – Intermediate Level
Carnival – Brazil
Carnival is a festive season occurring before lent, usually around February or March. In this
event people wear colorful masks and costumes and participate in a parade, which
contains elements of a circus and a street party.
Items prohibited during lent are often consumed in vast amounts and it is usually encouraged to go
wild during a carnival, satirising or celebrating things that are seen as unacceptable in everyday
The most famous carnival is the one in Rio. With up to 2 million people in its streets per day. The
parade contains breath taking floats, revellers and adornments made by various samba schools. A
samba school is a collaboration of neighbours who want participate in the carnival.
Why is it celebrated?
The motive for celebration varies depending on its location. For example in Rio de Janiero
the carnival is celebrated in honour of the gods and the great waters, whereas in other
places it is more of a decadent blow-out before Lent.
What do people wear?
The Carnival is celebrated with a grand parade of festivity, merry-making and excess. The
costumes are designed and made by the samba schools, and are famous for their vast amounts
of color, outlandish accessories, wonderfully over the top headpieces and the common use of
The parade is divided into what is known as wings. Each school’s
wings represent a specific theme which is reflected in their
costumes. The ground wing is reserved to dancers and musicians
that surround the float, the float wing is for the performers on the
floats themselves. The samba schools take these very seriously,
and their costumes often cost as much as 1000 USD to make
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