|The History of Carnival in Brazil (with video)|
Brazil is a complex country, culturally and socially. One of its most recognizable events, Carnival seems to be equally full of paradoxes.
The samba traditions in Brazil seem to have come from the Africans brought to the country as slaves. African traditions of wearing costumes and parading through villages dancing and singing, while wearing fancy fabrics, shells bones and masks as representations of spiritual beliefs seems to have merged with European traditions, particularly Italian Christian traditions to form this very Brazilian festival.
In Africa, feathers were used on masks and headdresses as symbol of regrowth and masks were used to conceal and create a magical personality to those wearing them.
The name Carnival seems to originate from the Italian "Carnivale" (or carne levare) festival, which means "to remove meat" which was a tradition of dressing up in costumes and celebrate before the first day of Lent. Since Catholics are not supposed to eat meat during Lent the festival adopted that appropriate name. The carnival in Italy became quite famous and spread to France, Spain and Catholic countries in Europe and part of that seems to have been brought back to Brazil during the Portuguese colonization of the country.
It was the merge between those mostly Catholic European and African slave traditions that made Brazilian Carnival such an exciting festival.
Brazil's most known representation of carnival is called a "School of Samba", which isn't really a school, but a large gathering of dancers and musicians who become the teams that parade in the "Schools of Samba Competition".
The first school of samba in Brazil was called Deixa Falar and was created by a "carioca" (Rio de Janeiro resident) named Ismael Silva in 1928. That school of samba eventually changed its name to Estacio de Sa.
Rio de Janeiro is particularly famous for the highly orchestrated and fantastic display of its schools of samba which is watched by people around the world.