Since the country abolished slavery rather late, in 1888, a large number of African natives kept being brought across the ocean, a fact that considerably influenced Brazil’s contemporary ethnic make-up. Afro-Brazilians now represent almost half of the country’s inhabitants, making them the majority when it comes to ethnic groups and Brazil the largest black population in the African Diaspora with more than 55 million people identifying as black or of mixed race.
Starting around 1550, the Portuguese began trading slaves from the West African and Central African regions of Ghana, Benin, Nigeria, Angola, Congo and Mozambique. An estimated four million people, thirty seven percent of all the captured Africans forced into slavery, were settled in Brazil to work in the sugar plantations and mining industry. Slavery was the foundation of the Brazilian economy until 1888 when slavery was legally abolished.
The Africans that arrived in Brazil not only brought over their strength and beauty but also their music and cultural traditions. Their cultural traditions inevitably blended with the Brazilian’s own to produce a unique cultural manifestation of its own.
The most famous Brazilian tradition is Carnaval. In the 1600’s the Portuguese imported the practice of staging masquerade balls to Brazil. It did not take long for this annual celebration that takes place 40 days before Easter, became infused with African practices.
Brazil’s carnival is a unique combination of Portuguese and African culture. After the Portuguese colonized Brazil, they brought over what was originally a food festival as a last time to eat before fasting for the 40 days of lent. Gradually over time, the influence of African culture in Brazil brought in new rhythms, music and dancing, transforming the carnival into the party it is known for today.
Over the years Carnaval has evolved into a wild smorgasbord of elaborate costumes, floats and drum squads known as blocos. For four days Carnaval unites thousands gyrating dancers to a samba beat. Samba is not only the official music and dance of Carnaval, but is also a linguistic remnant of the Africans in Brazil. The word samba means to dance and invoke the African spirits. Since the 1600’s Brazilian Carnaval has captured the imagination of the entire world.
The Africans slaves did not completely forget their culture and so they took along with them the practice of paying homage to the gods through elaborate masks and costumes. They also use bones, grass, feathers or wood in supplication or to fight against evil spirits. This is the reason why the modern Rio Carnival possesses that rustic and earthy character.
What to Expect at the Rio Carnival 2020
What began as pagan festival celebrated in honor of the gods during the early 15th century is now known as the Rio Carnival. Considered as one of the biggest parties in the world, the Rio Carnival is a blend of the most energizing, electrifying, and astounding performances to meet your eyes. Whether you’d like to party down in the streets or in high-end sophisticated balls, the party truly never stops at the Rio Carnival.
Considered as the last celebration before Lent, the Rio Carnival draws travel enthusiasts and party goers from every corner of the globe. For Rio Carnival 2020, everyone is getting ready for the party of the century.
Don’t miss Rio Carnival 2020- with over 400 parties to attend, you’ll never run out of party fun.
A taste of Africa at Rio Carnival 2020
We now know that the Portuguese were the first to organize parades and were the ones who introduced the carnival to Brazil, but aside from that, the Rio Carnival also showcased great African influence in its music and dance. When the Portuguese reached Brazil, they brought African slaves who carried with them the richness of their African culture.
The drum beats, dance, and music of the African slaves gave birth to Samba. These African slaves moved to Rio once slavery was abolished. From then on Rio was exposed to the wonders of the samba rhythm which was quickly adapted into the carnival.