Watch out world, it’s CARNIVAL time…

Rio Carnival

Rio Carnival

When many people think of Brazil, they think of a few things: soccer, beaches, beautiful women, and Carnival. The last one is a celebration that is mimicked worldwide.  Just look at what I spotted in Amsterdam this weekend!

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Carnival is just coming to a close in Brazil at the moment. Like Saint Patrick’s Day, Carnival is actually a religious celebration – but the Brazilians have of course turned it into the most massive party of the year.

In a nutshell, Carnival is an annual festival that marks the beginning of Lent; it occurs from the Friday to the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday.  And these five days are perhaps the craziest days in the Brazilian calendar.  To start with, there are exorbitant competitions between samba schools; schools practice for the entire year just for this one event.  The sets and costumes have got to be, by a landslide, some of the most extravagant in the world. Read more about it here.

One samba school performing in Rio

One samba school performing in Rio

But the best part of all? The streets become packed with people of all ages and nationalities and each person gets to participate in this enormous party.

In Rio, there are blocos (blocks), each of which is generally associated with a certain neighborhood and made up of a group of people who dress up in costumes or themed t-shirts.

Such fantasias (costumes) include men dressing up as women. Entertaining, huh? One of my carioca friends did it this year with his friends. And this is the result….

some crazy "fantasias"...

some crazy “fantasias”…

Bloco parties are also where people meet to sing Carnival songs.  Like the songs sung in the samba competitions, the songs that people sing on the streets, called marchas de carnival, always have a double meaning.  Some blocos have cars driving through the street and playing music (such as in the photo below).

One of the largest and best "blocos" of Rio, called "cordão do bola preta," drawing more than 2 million people

One of the largest and best “blocos” of Rio, called “cordão do bola preta,” drawing more than 2 million people

To make things even more interesting, kissing strangers is a common occurance at bloco parties. Brazilians like to use Carnival as an excuse to ficar (hook up) with random strangers or people they are interested in.  My carioca friend told me that he kissed a total of 15 girls during this 5-day Carnival period. As he said,

uma garota ficou comigo só porque eu cantei pra ela ‘Is this love?” do Bob Marley haha, aì todo mundo que ta perto canta ‘beija, beija!! (one girl kissed me just because I sung ‘Is this love’ by Bob Marley to her haha, everyone close to us was chanting ‘kiss, kiss!’)

This kind of thing happens all the time at Carnival…So don’t be surprised if you hear this line: “Fala serio, é carnival!!” (“Come on! It’s carnival!”).  I even heard this line in Paris from several Brazilians!

Crazy fun "bloco" party in Rio

Another crazy fun “bloco” party in Rio

Want to go? Block parades start in January and often go on until just after Carnival ends. Take a look at how many bloco parties there were this year.

And to get a taste of just how fun it is, check out this video:

As for me…I’ll see you next year, Carnival!

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