16 Feb 2012
Brazilians start Carnival celebration
Brazil's most popular holiday kicks off
From the 17th until the 22nd of February Brazilians celebrate the country's major holiday, the Carnival. It is not exaggeration to say that, during five days, Brazil stops. The main order is to party. In every city, from the smallest to the biggest, people take the streets on colourful parades during the day and the night. Even the capital Brasilia suspends all the political and legislative work, with most of the lawmakers leaving town to enjoy the celebrations. The party also means huge profits for many sectors. In this period Brazil receives 70% of its annual visitors. The beer consumption, for example, accounts for 80% of the whole annual consumption. Rio de Janeiro is treating the event as a showcase for its organizational skills ahead of its World Cup hosting in 2014 and the Olympic Games in 2016.
Originally, Carnival is a religious party held in Roman Catholic societies. The Latin derived term implies a "farewell to flesh", or "take away the meat" - meaning it is the last period of feast before the penitence that goes from the Wednesday of Ashes until the Easter. According to the bible, the forty days between the end of carnival and Easter was the period that Jesus spent on the desert before its death and resurrection, celebrated in Easter. Along the years, however, Carnival's religious tradition has lost its meaning. Particularly in Brazil, people avoid eating red meat on the Wednesday of Ashes, but that is the closest they get from religious influence during Carnival.