Traveling around the world searching for the most famous, exciting, and downright fun places to visit, Rio de Janeiro's Carnival would be one of the finest and most important stops in Brazil

The Rio Carnival coincides with the 40 days before Lent. Because during Lent, Roman Catholics are supposed to abstain from all bodily pleasures, the Carnival is held as a lead-up to this season. The Carnival is celebrated during the days before Lent and is celebrated as a profane event. It is believed that the origins of the Carnival are set in the pagan Saturnalia, which is considered to be of the flesh and of pleasures, which truly makes the Carnival a send-off of these pleasures. 

Short History

The Carnival in Rio holds a great history in itself. Until it was recognized as an expression of culture by the government, citizens who did not participate in the Carnival used to riot and protest its existence. The roots of the modern Rio Carnival are found in the 1800s when the rich people in the city started to hold balls and masquerade parties, which came from the rich in Paris. It was originally a mimic of the European idea of a festival and has, over time, brought in elements of not only European festivals but African and American festivals and cultural ideas as well. 

Rio Carnival Parades

An allegoric parade show.
An allegoric parade show. [CC] credit.

Part of the Rio Carnival's current celebration are groups of people who parade through the streets, playing music and dancing. Today, these are called 'Blocos', and they consist of people who dress in different costumes or even t-shirts that proclaim who they are and what they believe in. These are usually, in modern times, associated with different neighborhoods or suburbs of Rio. They are groups of people who live or follow these different neighborhoods' practices, and the Blocos include percussion groups or bands and people who follow along with the group. The Blocos have become more and more popular each year, and it is organized so that each of them will have their own areas to party and parade in, away from traffic and other Blocos. Along with the parades and parties of the Blocos, the Rio Carnival is known for the elaborate parades that the city governments put on. The city's major samba schools participate in these parades, and one of the major tourist attractions during Rio's Carnival is watching these Samba schools parade. In fact, the entire year leading up to the Carnival is rehearsal time for these schools, and everyone who is part of the group will participate in the parade, no matter how good they are at the Samba or how much they have learned. 

The parades offer another chance for Rio's citizens - one that only comes once a year. During the parades, the entire class and social order system of Rio is forgotten. Rich dress like poor, poor dress like rich, male and female genders are swapped for costuming. During the Carnival and parades, this entire party atmosphere is not the atmosphere of the general life in Rio - but during the Carnival, all as expected and all is accepted. 

Bringing people together

A street show in Rio.
A street show in Rio. [CC] credit.

Another important aspect of how the citizens behave during the Rio Carnival is that all aspects of people being different are completely set aside. There are some issues with racism in Rio, as with any other place, yet there does not seem to be much of this happening during the Carnival season. The general atmosphere in Rio during Carnival is one of acceptance and of everyone getting along. This is not seen very often in many different places because there is usually tension of some sort found during celebrations - no matter what that celebration is for. 

Going to the Carnival

It is recommended that you go to Rio for the Carnival and book lodging well in advance. It is perhaps one of the most popular times for people to be traveling in this part of the world, and it is often found that hotels and other establishments are booked years in advance. 

Going to Rio during Carnival means that you can expect to be a part of some of the best parties that anyone has ever had a chance to be a part of. During the lead up to Lent, the final 40 days in which the Roman Catholics are allowed to do the things that are considered pleasures of the flesh, the entire population of Rio is wrapped up in celebrations and good feelings. There is always something to do, someone to watch, and excellent food and drink to share. 

A parade at the Rio de Janeiro Carnaval.
A parade at the Rio de Janeiro Carnaval. [CC] credit.

The Rio Carnival is considered one of the best ways that the citizens of Rio showcase their culture and beliefs to the rest of the world. That means that not only will you be able to enjoy the parties that go along with being in this place during the carnival, but you will be able to get a good idea of what the general culture and history of this area is.

Another thing that is important to tourists during Carnival of Rio is that everyone who lives in the general area is always willing and ready to teach others about Carnival or about the various aspects of life in Rio or the history of the Carnival of Rio itself. What this means for you is that you'll be able to participate in this historical event while also learning something about what makes the entire thing work, as well. 

Many of the citizens also open their homes and open their arms to the different people coming into Rio from all over the world. This is unique to this area, and if you are looking for a place to stay, good food to eat, or someone to teach you about the different areas or the things that you might want to know, the chances are good that someone will be there to teach you.