False Fun in the Brazilian Carnival

“There are many shadows, but remember, where there is a shadow there must be a light.” Anon

The Rio de Janeiro Mardi Gras known as O Carnival is without doubt the most amazing in the world. Most Brazilian cities will have a celebração but nothing has more glitz and decadence than the one in Rio. During the days of Carnival that end the day before Lent Samba Schools, made up of neighborhood groups, compete in parades that weave their way through the streets from sunset to dawn. Costumes are incredibly expensive and complex though that is a relative term for some are very scanty. The highlight of the opulent parades during two nights draws top musicians, beauty queens and tourists from many parts of the world.

My beautiful picture

Doris and I knew nothing about Carnival except the little bit our maid told us while we were in language school.  With our limited Portuguese we were not able

A beautiful picture if the hears had not change colors.

to grab onto her every word. But we got this—she invited us to attend a Carnival parade through downtown Campinas for she was part of it. Doris and I attended while carrying Monica, our little baby. We hardly recognized our maid for she was wonderfully costumed. The Campinas Carnival was quiet compared to the one in Rio though we never ever attended another anywhere.

Time to rest–um descanço              

Here’s the reason. The churches not only took a stand against the out-of-control decadence of the Carnival but they organized retreats for their people, especially the youth. The church took its stand against the Carnival for it encouraged ridding oneself  of any inhibitions. Carnival lured everyone to more freely and wildly to the mesmerizing music of the Samba bands.

The Carnival promotes the freedom to commit any sin with the purity demands of Lent approaching just days and hours away. Lent is considered to be the season for fasting and penitence when the sins of the flesh are to be left behind. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and continues for forty days to Good Friday. As believers in Christ our Saviour, we turn our backs on the festivities of the Carnival and instead turn our hearts and minds towards the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. There really is no place where the Christian faith says it is o.k. for us to throw our morals and inhibitions to the wind. The cost is too high.

It is interesting that the practice sessions for the schools of Samba go on during two months before Carnival. These schools work on their music, dancing and the organization of their parts in the parades. Behind the scenes are the ladies who sew and prepare the costumes; often the poor among them spend their small incomes on costumers rather than putting food on the table. African culture plays a big role in the Carnival festivities in the cities in the North of Brazil. And many Northern Caboclos (hicks from the interior) dress in traditional Indian garb and bright feathers.

A baptism during a retreat with Rev. Harold Ryckman reading the scripture.

The Easter message is based on historical facts so that as we ponder the scripture record, confidence builds in the Salvation Jesus offers. History commends itself to our reasoning processes so the story of Easter becomes personal and we make it the guide for all of life. That includes eternity. An old hymn proclaims part of that message with the words, “A Wonderful Saviour is Jesus my Lord, He taketh my burdens away…”


One thought on “False Fun in the Brazilian Carnival

  1. Brian Lowry

    What a fascinating post! The carnival encourages decadence, while Lent demands penitence. Many parallels can be seen in our own country.



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