Brazil’s carnival is a national celebration that lasts four days, and varies from region to region. The carnival of Porto Alegre, a city located in the extreme south of the country, is strongly influenced by it’s significant black presence, even though the region’s image is often associated with immigrants of European descent.

The rivalry between the large associations, the marching bands, the Cordões, and the Samba Schools has always been at the heart of Porto Alegre’s carnival. As they compete against each other, revellers party and everyone joins in, cheering for one group or the other.
Brazil’s carnival is a national celebration that lasts four days, and varies from region to region. The carnival of Porto Alegre, a city located in the extreme south of the country, is strongly influenced by it’s significant black presence, even though the region’s image is often associated with immigrants of European descent.

The rivalry between the large associations, the marching bands, the Cordões, and the Samba Schools has always been at the heart of Porto Alegre’s carnival. As they compete against each other, revellers party and everyone joins in, cheering for one group or the other.

© 1999, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Brazil's Carnival

Carnival is a national celebration.

Oscar Garrido

© Oscar Garrido


Dance

O barão de catas altas

The baron of High Catas

Museu de Porto Alegre Joaquim José Felizardo

© 1998, Museu de Porto Alegre Joaquim José Felizardo


During the course of its history, carnival drew on elements from different cultures, blending, mixing and embracing characteristics, forms of expression, and differences of meaning. As performed today in Porto Alegre, the Samba School parades are the carnival’s main attraction.

Entrudo
The Porto Alegre Carnival began in the 18th century with the entrudo, a prank brought over by the Portuguese from the Azores, whereby people threw flour, water, and limão de cheiro missiles at each other. At the end of the 19th century, two important Carnival associations were born. Rivalry between the two long dominated the city’s Carnival. The corso, a parade of floats down Porto Alegre’s streets, was a celebration enjoyed by the more well-to-do of the city’s inhabitants.
During the course of its history, carnival drew on elements from different cultures, blending, mixing and embracing characteristics, forms of expression, and differences of meaning. As performed today in Porto Alegre, the Samba School parades are the carnival’s main attraction.

Entrudo
The Porto Alegre Carnival began in the 18th century with the entrudo, a prank brought over by the Portuguese from the Azores, whereby people threw flour, water, and limão de cheiro missiles at each other. At the end of the 19th century, two important Carnival associations were born. Rivalry between the two long dominated the city’s Carnival. The corso, a parade of floats down Porto Alegre’s streets, was a celebration enjoyed by the more well-to-do of the city’s inhabitants.

© 1999, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Jornal O Século

Jornal O Século, 1881.

Araujo Guerra

© Araujo Guerra


The turn of the 20th century marked the moment when the people’s Carnival moved into the city streets. People who lived in different neighbourhoods organized their own party, set up their bandstands, decorated and lit up the streets, held competitions and awarded prizes. Countless marching bands and Cordões (dozens of people wearing the same costume) descended into the streets to sing and dance during the four days of revelry.
The turn of the 20th century marked the moment when the people’s Carnival moved into the city streets. People who lived in different neighbourhoods organized their own party, set up their bandstands, decorated and lit up the streets, held competitions and awarded prizes. Countless marching bands and Cordões (dozens of people wearing the same costume) descended into the streets to sing and dance during the four days of revelry.

© 1999, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Revista do Globo

Revista do Globo, no. 842, vol. XXXV, March 1963.

João Vieira e Thales Farias

© João Vieira e Thales Farias


The birth of the people’s Carnival of Porto Alegre is associated with the city’s black neighbourhoods. These areas had their own spacial and cultural borders, and instilled a feeling of belonging. In downtown alleys and surrounding neighbourhoods, people of African origin brought with them their own ways of enjoying Carnival, introducing new rhythms and dances.
The birth of the people’s Carnival of Porto Alegre is associated with the city’s black neighbourhoods. These areas had their own spacial and cultural borders, and instilled a feeling of belonging. In downtown alleys and surrounding neighbourhoods, people of African origin brought with them their own ways of enjoying Carnival, introducing new rhythms and dances.

© 1999, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Black traditions

Revista do Globo, no. 477, vol. XXI, February 1949.

Flávio Damm

© Flávio Damm, Brazil


One of the most important Carnival personalities is King Momo. At the beginning of Carnival, usually in February, he receives the keys to the city from the Mayor of Porto Alegre, symbolically governing the Carnival during the four days of revelry. Vincente Rao was the most popular King Momo.
One of the most important Carnival personalities is King Momo. At the beginning of Carnival, usually in February, he receives the keys to the city from the Mayor of Porto Alegre, symbolically governing the Carnival during the four days of revelry. Vincente Rao was the most popular King Momo.

© 1999, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

King Momo

King Momo governs the Carnival

Museu Joaquim José Felizardo

© Museu Joaquim José Felizardo, Brazil


Learning Objectives

The learner will:
  • Describe the origins of the Brazilian Carnival, Porto Alegre
  • Relate some traditions associated with the Brazilian Carnival, Porto Alegre
  • Explore the role of music and dance in Brazilian culture

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