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Carnival Fever

Samba driven Brazilians blow out steam every year during Carnival. Samba is a type of popular music with roots in Afro-Brazilian traditions. Samba music is distinct for its characteristic rhythmic patterns, emphasis on melody, relatively simple harmonies, use of African percussion instruments, and Portuguese-language lyrics.

Every year for a week in February (a month in the city of Salvador, Bahia along the east coast), Brazil is taken over by the wild, exuberant and pulsing display that is Carnival. Meant to celebrate the beginning of Catholic Lent, it’s perhaps most well-known for being an incredible spectacle of samba dancing, live music in the streets, world-class parades, colorful costumes, and vibrant revelry. Carnival in Brazil is the most popular time to visit the country, and is an experience that captures the essence of the lively Brazilian culture unlike any other. Think Mardi Gras turned all the way up, with a ton of Latin flair!


Seen in the picture above is one of my daughters together with girlfriends in Rio de Janeiro, the Carnival capital of the world. It's the main festivity in Brazil which earned the distinction of being “The Greatest Show on Earth.” The Rio Carnival that starts on Friday until Tuesday where she was invited to experience the stadium especially built for the event. The wide Marquee of Sapucaí Avenue accommodates 80,000 visitors and 5,000 participants. You can feel the resonance of the drums, cymbals and trumpets echo through the Sambadrome and brim over to the streets.


When I came to Brazil in the 80s it intrigued me though I couldn’t say I was in love with Samba which is a bit like Marmite (the British bread spread) which you either love or hate. The drums certainly have a tremendous vibration that provide great beats to excite the calmest, and thirty minutes is sufficient to enjoy. The point with Carnival is that it goes on and on and eventually, unless you are used to it, and have the desire to let go of your inhibitions unstintingly then enough is enough.


Personally, I reckon the antics a worthwhile break from the serious 9 to 5 job, as once a year it’s a bonus break. Whether you find pleasure partying or relaxing at the beach is up to you!

Have a terrific day!

Prof. Carl Boniface


Vocabulary builder:

Blow out steam (idiom) = get rid of pent-up energy or strong emotion.

"I just needed to walk to blow off steam."

Pent-up (adj) = closely confined or held back. "pent-up frustrations"

Revelry (n) = partying, gaiety, festivities, celebrations

Mardi Gras = (French: Fat Tuesday) festive day celebrated in France on Shrove Tuesday (the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday), which marks the close of the pre-Lenten season. The French name Mardi Gras means Fat Tuesday, from the custom of using all the fats in the home before Lent in preparation for fasting and abstinence.

Marquee (n) = in North America it means a canopy projecting over the entrance to a theater, hotel, or other building. In British it means a large tent used for social or commercial functions like those constructed in garden areas for weddings.

Brim (n) = ridge, edge, top, rim, i.e., throng, overflow, abound, be abundant in, be rich in, teem

Unstintingly (adv) = generously, liberally, unsparingly, bountifully, untiringly, (ant) stingily

Antics (n) = playfulness, clowning, tricks, frolics, larking about, behaviors

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