Tag Archives: carnaval

Coincidences – in a city of 20m people!

Carnaval is the enormous party the marks the beginning of Lent. It’s still another week until the festival officially begins, but this is Brazil so the weekend before Carnaval is full of street parties – “blocos” – celebrating that it is just another week until Carnaval!

I went out to a few different blocos yesterday and there were some incredible coincidences all in the same day. My wife knew that her dentist and his family were going to be at one particular party, but the party was so big that we could not even see the stage where a band was playing Beatles songs. Yet even though we were surrounded by thousands of people, we found them almost immediately.

Later we were walking down the street, in-between parties, and we met the girlfriend of our friend’s son (who had just recently visited us in he countryside) – and she said that she was walking near our apartment hoping that we might be about! So we all went to another party together…

Then, as we were walking home later in the evening, my wife saw her cousin. In fact she said to me “that guy over there looks just like my cousin”, so we walked closer and it was him! We didn’t even realise that he was in São Paulo!

Even in a city of 20 million people we still managed to bump into friends and family in unexpected ways – all in one single day and with no arrangement using mobile phones!

Bloco Soviético #bloco #carnaval #sovietico #soviet #saopaulo

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Which would you prefer… pancake day or carnaval?

In the Gospels, Jesus spent 40 days fasting in the desert and being tempted by Satan before he commenced on the teaching part of his life – the Ministry. Today in Christian societies this is marked by the celebration of Lent.

Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, which is Wednesday next week. Many believers will give up something for the entire period – not quite fasting, but at least refraining from something pleasurable, like alcohol or meat, for the entire period.

In the UK, the advent of Lent is marked by Shrove Tuesday, or pancake day. This is traditionally when extra flour, eggs, and other food from the cupboard would all be cooked up on the final day before Lent – ensuring a feast of pancakes on the last day when such gluttony is allowed.

pancakes front and center

In Brazil it is all quite different. Brazil is far more religious than the UK – truck drivers paint thank you messages to God on their vehicles, asking for a safe journey. It is predominantly Catholic, but with a fast-rising group of evangelical churches too – almost all of them Christian though.

In Brazil there is no pancake day. There is carnaval!

Last year in Rio, almost 5m people joined in the party and it stops the entire nation for almost a week – here in São Paulo, I know that sleeping will be tough for the next week as the music goes on almost all night. This Friday, next Monday and Tuesday, and half of Wednesday are all public holidays in Brazil for the carnaval. So it is almost certain that everything will start winding down early tomorrow and nobody will return to work on Wednesday afternoon – even if that is the official end of the party… many will take annual leave on Thursday and Friday next week allowing almost a week and half off work for just a couple of days leave.

Those who take the carnaval seriously and compete for the various best dancer, best float, or best band prizes will spend the entire year preparing and leading up to this moment – it’s bigger than even Christmas and that’s saying a lot in such a Christian country.

So I guess carnaval more than trumps pancake day, but I still might get the pancake mix out on Tuesday, just to encourage a mix of both cultures. I live in a house with Morrissey pictures on the wall!

Vila_Isabel, samba & platform sandals

Pancake photo by Yesica licensed under Creative Commons. Carnaval photo by Carnaval.com licensed under Creative Commons.

Henry VIII has a lot to answer for

The English Reformation in the 16th Century was the series of events that led to the creation of the Church of England – when the English broke away from the power of the Roman Catholic church.

For most of my life, I never really considered the significance of this, other than the knowledge that if I had ever met and wanted to get married to an English princess I could never be a King thanks to my own Catholic background.

But now I have moved to Brazil, and as Lent begins this week, I can see a huge glaring difference.

In England, the tradition is to make pancakes on Shrove Tuesday – a way of seeking absolution for the crap we eat all year, get rid of it all, and eat more humble food for the following 40 days up to Easter.

In Brazil, the entire country goes wild and nobody does any work for a week… because it’s the CARNIVAL season!

Henry VIII has a lot to answer for…

Viviane Araújo