In 2010, I had an unforgettable experience related to the Carnival in Brazil. Towards the end of 2009, I started getting interested in the topic while contributing to Oh My News International, a South Korean newspaper. I decided to write about the making of Carnival, and for this purpose, I contacted Tadeu Kaçula (T Kaçula), a renowned samba artist from São Paulo.
I met him performing at Tunico’s bar in Campinas – SP, and later learned that he was connected to the Music Institute of the University of São Paulo. Following his recommendation, I got involved with the Unidos do Peruche samba school, known for being one of the most representative of the black community in São Paulo.
This immersion was enriching, opening me up to a world of new experiences. I learned about the cultural and social aspects of Carnival, from the percussion section to the significance and importance of the school’s standard. During a rehearsal, a particularly moving moment occurred: while filming the percussion’s evolution, the lead couple of master of ceremonies and flag bearer entered, dancing with a grace and passion that deeply touched me.
The beauty of the scene, with the percussion playing behind them and the standard being skillfully handled, brought tears to my eyes, a cathartic moment that highlighted a beauty and emotion of the Carnival I had never felt before.
The community gathers every Wednesday to rehearse the samba plot and dances. Carnival is much more than the Avenue (the Sambadrome); it is an art passed down from parents to children, generating art, income, joy, and unity. The behind-the-scenes of this party taught me a lot, important life lessons.
I filmed and photographed many moments, capturing the school’s evolution and the intensity of the preparations. In 2010, Unidos do Peruche, as T Kaçula had predicted, stood out with a magnificent parade, securing their rise to the special group.
Beyond the personal account, it is important to highlight the broader context of Carnival in Brazil. For example, the 2024 Carnival will be celebrated on February 13, with festivities extending from February 10 to 13. This festival represents a period of celebration, joy, and cultural diversity, being a unique expression of Brazilian identity: Combining dance, music, theater, and local traditions, Brazilian Carnival is a unique artistic and cultural manifestation.
Economically, Carnival is also significant, especially in cities like São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, and Salvador, generating temporary jobs and boosting tourism. Culturally, it preserves and values Brazil’s regional traditions, reflecting the richness of local culture and the historical heritage of different peoples. Socially, it promotes cohesion and community integration, strengthening bonds of friendship and solidarity.
Carnival has its origins in ancient European festivities related to pagan and religious traditions. In Brazil, this celebration merged with African and indigenous influences, acquiring its own identity. The term “carnival” comes from the Latin “carne levare,” reflecting its roots in the tradition of consuming meat before Lent, a period of fasting and abstinence.
Carnival occurs immediately before the start of Lent. Therefore, Carnival Tuesday, known as “Fat Tuesday,” occurs one day before Ash Wednesday. Ash Wednesday is 46 days before Easter Sunday, and Carnival traditionally begins on Saturday and ends on Fat Tuesday. Therefore, the date of Carnival varies each year, as it depends on the calculation of Easter, which is influenced by the lunar cycle.
In summary, Carnival is more than a party; it is a symbol of the diversity, creativity, and traditions of the Brazilian people, a celebration that goes beyond joy and becomes a moment of cultural and social expression.
A glimpse of the parade rehearsal:
– The following playlist features the complete parade: