What is more iconic and cultural bounded to Brazil than Carnaval? Every year festive Brazilians of all ages take to the streets and celebrate. We (Thomas and Ane) take you through our experiences of the event in Brasilia and some of the history behind carnival.
The carnival is originally a catholic event, traditionally ending on Ash Wednesday, signaling an end to a 5-day eating feast. It was the last chance to eat abundantly before the 40 days of Lent. The Portuguese brought the tradition over from Europe and it would pool into a multicultural cocktail with strong influences from African dance moves, rhythms and music styles. It was not before 1917 that the Samba first occurred (www.aboutbrasil.com) and it has defined the event ever since. Over the years, carnival has become a symbol of self-expression, a spirit of freedom and political protests against sitting governments.
The carnival has different shapes and influences in the different parts of the country. For example, Rio de Janeiro is the only place where the iconic parades are arranged. In Salvador the “trio elétricos”, trucks loaded with music systems, roll through the streets for hours, followed by thousands of dressed up people, dancing to the traditional Baiana music style from the state of Bahia.
Here in Brasilia the city is divided into different “bloquinhos” during carnival, with different sizes, music styles and themes. We went to several of these blocks and experienced all the happiness and craziness from the “Brasilienses” (people from Brasilia).
The carnival started officially on Friday 1st of March and ended on Tuesday 5th. We have gotten to meet a lot of people and seen the different festivities all over the city during these days. We have gotten to taste proper Caipirinhas, been covered in glitter, seen countless of dressed up people and danced samba (at least tried to). We were told to take good care of our belongings and stay away from fights that could occur during the festivities. However, we did not experience any unpleasantries, and the hospitality we have felt during the carnival has been sensational.
We have been in Brasilia for two weeks now, and apart from the carnival experience we have gotten to know Hostel 7 (where we are working from) and the people who works there. We have also tried to get an understanding of how to get around in the city, and we are trying to turn our Spanish knowledge into Portuguese, without too much use of «Portoñol». Moreover, Thomas bought a guitar on his 3rd day here, and has already been jamming with the locals at several occasions. We are also continuously thinking about how to make our environment a little greener, and with our carnival experience as a backdrop, here are a few tips on how to make your carnival (and also festivals and concerts in general) a bit more sustainable:
- Bring your belongings with you in eco-friendly bags.
- Use eco-friendly straws as an alternative to plastic straws. Good options are bamboo straws, paper straws, steel straws and glass straws.
- Bring your own reusable cup/glass with you.
- A big part of carnival involves dressing up in a costume. Try to be creative and re-use old clothes you already have at home, rather than buying a new costume for each occasion.
- Do not throw garbage on the ground, but rather take it with you and dispose of it in assigned garbage bins.
- Remember to have fun! After all, the social part of sustainability is also important, so interact with the people around you, and remember that a smile goes a long way! 🙂
After carnival we are more than ready to continue working with sustainability in Brazil. The previous participants have done a great job here, and we are very excited about being in Brazil and working on the 3rd round of the Say HI to Sustainability project!
Written by: Thomas Røkås and Ane Omland