What Is the History of Brazilian Carnival?


Quick Answer

The earliest records of Carnival in Rio de Janiero date back to 1723 when Portuguese immigrants introduced the “Entrudo,” when participants went into the streets and dowsed each other with water, limes, mud and food. Parades and masquerade balls were introduced in the 1800s. After slavery ended in 1888, Afro-Brazilians introduced samba music and dancing, which became an official part of Carnival in 1917.

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Full Answer

The “Entrudo,” considered the birth of Carnival in Rio, came to Brazil via immigrants from the Portuguese islands of Açores, Madeira and Cabo Verde. During the Entrudo, it was common for people to play pranks on parents and city officials. The rowdy crowds often led to riots and brawling, however, and the Entrudo was outlawed.

The first parades formed in the 1800s. A Portuguese shoemaker named José Nogueira de Azevedo began Ze Pereira, when on Carnival Monday he and his friends took to the streets with drums, tambourines. Others beat pans and blew whistles. These parades grew into those of the Grandes Sociedades such as Tenentes do Diabo, begun in 1855 by aristocratic Brazilians.

Modern-day masquerades and parades trace their roots to Ranchos Carnavalescos, introduced in 1872. Largely for and by the working classes, participants dressed in costumes and performed to the accompaniment of strings, native ganzas, flutes and other instruments. In 1888, the samba music played by African immigrants became part of Carnival, and its introduction led to the formation of samba schools and the samba parades, and the dancing that comprise modern carnival.

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