Carnival in Rio De Janeiro, one of the best-known parties in the world, is also the largest carnival celebration in the world. It’s filled with music, parades, drinking and people having fun. The carnival, a national holiday in Brazil, runs from Friday night to noon of the following Wednesday.
That’s the official length, but many Brazilians turn it into a 10-day holiday. It brings in about half a million foreign tourists each year. The carnival can trace its roots back to an ancient Greek festival held each spring to honor Dionysus, the god of wine. The Romans adopted the festival to honor two of their gods, Bacchanalia and Saturnalia. During the Roman festival, slaves and masters would exchange clothes and spend the day in drunken revelry.
The Catholic Church later modified the festival as a celebration leading up to Ash Wednesday. It grew into a last hurrah before Lent with its 40 days of trying to improve oneself through prayer and sacrifice. The samba, which is the primary music of Rio’s Carnival, was born at Rio. The samba is a ritual Candomble dance to drums and handclaps. At the end of the 19th Century, Tia Ciata, a Candomble priestess, used to have meetings in her home where live music was played while, in the backyard, others danced the samba.
The two musical beats eventually combined to form what we call the samba today. The first song that was called a samba was composed in Tia Ciata’s house.
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