Celebrating the Tradition of Carnival

Carnival takes place around the world in many countries, particularly Brazil. This year, the annual Brazilian festival will be held between March 1 and March 6, usually taking place between the Friday afternoon before Ash Wednesday and Ash Wednesday at noon. This marks the start of Lent, which is the 40-day period before Easter.

This festival is punctuated by vibrant colors, lively music, parties in the streets, parades, and celebrations. The biggest parties can be seen in the city of Rio de Janeiro. There’s a lot of dancing, drinking, eating and just having fun. It got its start in the 1830s in line with the Portuguese tradition of celebrating and indulging in food and drink on the day prior to Lent starting. 

Music and Dancing

This is when street musicians and dancing were both introduced in Rio de Janeiro’s Carnival. On top of that, revelers and parade goers wear colorful themed costumes and dance to live music. Traditional activities include street performances, dancing, watching the floats go by, eating and drinking. 

The celebration in Rio de Janeiro has one of the most well-known, featuring 100 block parades chock full of samba dancers, street bands, elaborate costumes, music and balls. More than 70 samba schools compete on the streets in dance competitions. The winners – typically the most creative schools – will compete for cash and nationwide fame at the Sambadrome as part of a two-night spectacle in Rio’s unique Carnival stadium.

It’s also a tradition for people to dress up in opposing roles: men dress as women, the poor dress as the rich, and aristocrats dress like commoners. Rambunctious street parties referred to as blocos can run from 8 in the morning to 8 the next morning! One thing’s for sure, Carnival is not for the faint of heart. 

Carnival in Rio attracts more than 500,000 people every year, crammed into that one-week time period before Lent. 


It’s tradition to consume traditional Brazilian recipes and foods such as:

  • Feijoada (slow-cooked pork and beans with rice)
  • Moqueca baiana (fish stew)
  • Carurú (similar to gumbo, featuring with shrimp and toasted nuts)
  • Boiled or deep-fried cassava
  • Deep-fried bananas
  • Pork rinds (torresmo)
  • Rice and beans
  • Churrascarias (Brazilian barbecue)
  • Picadinho (minced meat, and/or rice and beans) 
  • Cakes, also known as bolos
  • Mousse de maracujá
  • Figs
  • Papaya
  • Mangos
  • Oranges
  • Pears
  • Peaches
  • Pumpkin
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Caipirinha (similar to a Mexican margarita)

Contact BRIC Language Systems

If you want to learn how to communicate like the natives, start your free trial now at BRIC, where you can learn Brazilian Portuguese. We also offer free Portuguese workshops that touch on anything from basic phrases to greetings and good wishes.