Carnaval Traditions to Celebrate at Home

If you can’t be in Rio, SP or Bahia for Carnaval, bring the celebration home with these different traditions ranging from food to music to dance. Carnaval in Brazil is a weeklong celebration filled with culture, cuisine and good fun. This year, it will begin on Friday, February 9 and continue through  Wednesday, February 14.

The word Carnaval (in English carnival) comes from the Latin “Carne Vale,” which means “Farewell to meat.” Therefore, this is the ultimate celebration before a period of abstinence from meat, alcohol and pleasure that ends on Easter, says RioCarnival.org.

To celebrate at home, follow these tips:

  • Learn to samba: This African-Brazilian dance and music is comprised of many different types of drums, shakers, trumpets, guitars and trombones. In Rio and São Paulo there are Samba schools from different neighborhoods that practice for an entire year leading up to the Carnival parades. During Carnaval, thousands of performers gather in the streets dressed in costumes and dancing on colorful floats to live music all along the Sambadrome parade route. Take a Samba class or listen to some Samba on your phone while you party!
  • Cook and read with the kids: Pick up a Brazilian recipe book to prepare traditional Rio cuisine with your kids. Try Recipe for Adventure: Rio de Janeiro by Giada De Laurentiis. Follow Emilia and Alfie to Rio de Janeiro for Carnaval as they come across Miguel, the leader of the children’s parade. Your kids will enjoy the story and you’ll enjoy teaching them the two Brazilian recipes included with the book.
  • Get a Brazilian Carnaval costume: Put that Halloween costume to a good use! The more sparkle and creativity the better! You can’t go wrong with the policeman, cowgirl, Indian, sailor, pirate or super hero costume. If you need some ideas on what to wear, check some cool tips here.
  • Find a Carnaval party in your town: If you happen to live in or near a town with a large Brazilian expat community, you will most likely be able to get a taste of Carnaval! Find a Brazilian party next to you and celebrate Carnaval as if you were in Rio or SP!
  • Drink up: Try Brazil’s national drink, the Caipirinha, which is like a Margarita but better. Ingredients include Cachaça (sugar-cane rum), raw sugar and fresh lime, all shaken and poured on the rocks. Pair it with feijoada, which is a black bean stew with usually beef or pork.
  • Learn Brazilian Portuguese: Take an online learning class with a teacher from Brazil through BRIC Language Systems. Maybe by next year at this time, you can actually go to Carnival and show off your new skills!

We hope you can use these suggestions when celebrating Rio at home this year!