Brief history of
Carnaval / Carnival
Pelourinho.com
 History of Carnival in Bahia, Brazil
Carnival Roots

There are several versions on the origin of the word "Carnival". In the Milanise dialect, Carnevale means "the time when the use of meat is taken away", since Carnival is precisely the night before Ash Wednesday. In Brazil, the event is the greatest popular cultural manifestation besides soccer. It is a mixture of fun, party and theater which involves art and folklore. In its origin, it basically comes up as a street party. However, in most capitals, it ends up restricted to closed spaces, such as clubs and "sambódromos".
Sources:
Newspapers – A Tarde, Tribuna da Bahia, and Correio da Bahia.
C.C. Fantoches da Euterpe
Bahiatursa’s document center
African-Oriental Studies Center / Brazil’s Carnaval and Processions
Essays / Research #5 – Oct., 1980
Excel Mania – Bank Excel Econômico’s internal magazine
Bloco "Os Internacionais" ‘s magazine – Year VII / #7
Emtursa’s Press Department
Bahia’s Carnaval’s History and Evolution – TVE’s Production, 1988
Musician Aroldo Macedo – Osmar’s family
Gregório de Mattos Foundation
FCEBa – Dimus / Tempostal Museum
Mr. Waldemar Sandes – ABTI’s President
From Entrudo to Bahia’s Carnaval – Hildegardes Vianna / Writer, Folklorist, and Professor.
Pictures of Carnaval 2001 in Brazil

Time traveling

Carnival's origin comes from a popular manifestation prior to the Chrstian Age, begun in Italy, and named Saturnálias, in honor of Saturn. BACO and MOMO, gods of Greek-Roman Mythology, shared the honors during the festivities, which were held in November and December. During the celebrations in Rome, an apparent breakdown in society's hierarchy took place, since slaves, philosophers and tribunes mingled along public squares. With the expansion of the Roman Empire, parties became more frequent and enthusiastic. At the time, true bacchanals took place.

At the beginning of the Christian Age, the first signs of censorship to the mundane festivities arose, once Catholic Church became more solid. With the intent of imposing austerity policies, the church determined that those festivities only happen before Lent.

The Italian then adopted the word Carnaveale, suggesting that Carnival, or "anything that occurred to their minds" could be carried out before Lent, in a kind of flesh abuse.

The party got to Portugal in the 15th and 16th centuries, being named "Entrudo", that is, introduction to Lent, through an aggressive and heavy joke. The event had an essentially gastronomical characteristic and was marked by some entertainment with some violence. There used to be thin wax spheres with the inside filled with perfume which were thrown in people. The more daring ones, however, began to inject on the inside of the "little oranges or smelly lemons", bad smelling and inadequate substances and the party started to lose its joy. It was exactly this violent "Entrudo" that reached Brazil's port.

In the second half of the 19th century the newspaper "Diário da Bahia" and the Catholic Church criticized the "Entrudo" and demanded actions from the police authorities. When the Sunday before Lent approached, everyone "entrudated". All over the streets one could see groups called the "Caretas", covered with sheets, mats, leaves and "abadás" - a kind of loose short sleeved shirt that would go as far as the knees, which the Blacks used. On the "Entrudo" people would soak whoever was on the streets, and houses would be broken into for the same reason, no matter the age or health condition.

In 1853, the "Entrudo" began to be repressed with police orders. Even thus, the "little oranges" and wooden troughs filled with water continued to exist. It was precisely in this period that Carnival began to be re-shaped in a different way, divided into two classes: the Ballroom Carnival and the Street Carnival. The first had the participation of Whites and middle-class Mulattos, while the latter counted on Blacks and poor Mulattos.

In 1860, the "São João" Theater began to hold dauntless mask balls on Saturday evenings, starting the parties with passages from the Italian opera "La Traviata", followed by waltz, polka and square dance music. Participants were high social status people, which went to the theater, instead of attending the balls that were held in their own houses.

At the time, there was danger in businessmen and scholars being seen wearing masks. Therfore, costume stores and hairdressers, such as the famous "Pinelli" and "Balalaia" had specialists in disguises.

Since Carnival balls were not affordable by everyone, nor accordingly to the morals of many, it was necessary to stimulate its moving to the streets. For that reason, the sub-deputies were authorized to freely distribute masks to whoever wanted to join Carnival. Various commissions began to be assigned by the police chief, and the central commission, along with other church commissions which distributed masks, facilitated the purchase of other accessories, as well as music band arrangements. Tradespeople soon sympathized with the idea, aiming at more profit, and adopted Cranaval, instead of the "Entrudo".

In 1870, the separate masked men, stimulated by the police, and the public balls began to gain ground, although the "Entrudo" was still alive. The environment where Carnival took place started to improve, with the appearance of the "Bando Anunciador" (announcing group), that would go out inviting everyone for the festivities.

In clubs and theaters, competitions among groups and families that wore clothes and jewelry were held to show which entities and associations were the most elegant and refined. The pioneer "São João" Theater began to organize its balls a year in advance.

In 1878, the Carnival group "Os Cavaleiros da Noite" (The Night Knights) showed up for the first time in a ballroom in great style at the "Sâo João" Theater causing major furor. Two years later - with a greater number of balls all over the city - Salvador was inhabited by 120,000 people, eho concentrated financial resources and strong political power. Therefore, there were money, power and abundance, and that magnificence started to be shown in the ballrooms and Carnival balls. As an example, the clothes, accessories, hats, beverages, jewelry, shoes and nylons used in the parties were imported from the best stores in Paris and London.

At the same time, stages and music bands multiplied all over the city. Many uniformed clubs, such as "Zé Pereira", "Os Comilões" and "Os Engenheiros", costumed with "Cabeçorras" and other masks. As the celebrations increased, it was agreed that the "Campo Grande" would be the spot where masked people would meet on the days of Carnival, from where they would go out in groups.

In 1882, the stores started the habit of closing on Carnival Tuesday, from 1 p.m. on. The Mask Carnival and the Club Parades would heat up after 2 p.m.

Five years before the proclamation of the republic, the city, inhabited by about 170,000 people, organized its first great Carnival on the streets. It was deeply influenced by Europe, as almost everything that existed in Brazil at the time, with luxury, sophistication and praising comments. Strongly influenced by the refined Carnival in Venice, Italy, and mingling in elements from the popular Carnival in Nice, France, Salvador's Carnival, took its first step towards popularization, with the participation of many people on the streets.

The Great 1884 Carnival

The year of 1884 is considered as a conclusive moment for Bahia's Carnival. Although the celebration already had a considerable size - mainly in the ballrooms - it is in that year that the organization of street festivities, and parades in clubs, car parades, floats and many popular ones actually started. From then on, people's participation intensification and the acclamation of Carnival on the streets, which until now characterizes this celebration in Bahia, took place.

The 1884 Carnival reached Salvador in a period of rapid growth, caused by agriculture's progress in other regions and by the demands for a better organization of the urban space with the rural exodus. Progress was all around and tradespeople already made use of newspaper publicity. Even people who wore costumes, such as the ones who waited for the parade, dressed up, some in linen suits, gaiters and hats.

Founded on March 01, 1833, the "Clube Carnivalesco Cruz Vermelha" only started to take part in Carnival in 1884. The club organized a parade with boys and girls finely dressed and the novelty was the presence of a float, with the theme "Criticism to the Lottery Game", richly decorated with parts imported from Europe. The parade took off from one of the streets of Comércio, went up Montanha, passed in front of Barroquinha, Direita do Palácio (Rua Chile), Direita da Misericórdia, Direita do Colégio, and returned towards Politeama de Baixo (Instituto Feminino). The initiative was a true success, and received a lot of applause and flower petals from people who were on the streets. "Clube Cruz Vermelha" basically changed Carnival.

In March 1884, a group of youths founded the "Clube Carnivalesco Fantoches da Euterpe". The group was headed by four names from high society: Antônio Carlos Magalhães Costa (ACM's great-grandfather), João Vaz Agostinho, Fancisco Saraiva, and Luís Tarquínio (its first president).

In 1885, the dispute between the two clubs was even more intense. The "Diário de Notícias", the most influential newspaper of the time, published a quarter page advertisement, upon request of "Cruz Vermelha", describing its parade. "Fantoches" reacted by having its celebration program published in three columns. Both went to the streets with wonderful themes and outfits from Europe. "Cruz Vermelha's" head float presented "Fame" and "Fantoches", "Europe". Other clubs also joined the parade such as "Saca Rolhas", "Cavalheiros de Malta", "Clube dos Cacetes" and "Grupo dos Nenês".

At the time, there wasn't a judging commission to establish who won the parades and judgment was passed by the press, that measured the population's approval by the amount of applause. "Cruz Vermelha", more popular, always won, since "Fantoches", more connected to the aristocracy, had a smaller number of rooters. All the other entities represented the middle class.

In 1886, businessmen decided not to open the stores on Carnival Tuesday anymore. The presidents of the larger clubs met in the "Associação Comercial" with the objective of studying an only itinerary for all the entities.

Two years later, the city had one of the most famous Carnivals. "Cruz Vermelha" and "Fantoches" united to offer an enormous ball at Politeama. The day of the great Carnival Sunday finally came. There were many people on the streets; on the windows, anxiety was seen all over. The first one to appear was "Cruz Vermalha", with coordination, splendor and luxury. The crowd vibrated, throwing flowers on the cars. Then came "Fantoches", with its magnificent float decoration, grace, luxury and artistic taste, which justified everyone's delight. The result was both group's parading under rose rain. Carnival was already a true attraction, persecuted with years of fight and hope, and it was possible to say that it definitely beat the "Entrudo".

In 1892, the use of confetti and paper streamers was introduced in the country's Carnival. Confetti was used among some Carnival entities and the streamers came to replace the flowers thrown at the floats.

In 1894, Carnival mainly belonged to "Cruz Vermelha", "Fantoche" and other's elites, which paraded on the streets and attended the "Teatro São João" and "Politeama" 's balls. The poor segment continued to carry out few manifestations.

The First Afoxé

The following year, the nagô blacks organized the first "afoxé", called "Embaixada Africana" (African Embassy), which paraded with clothes and accessories imported from Africa.

In 1986 came the second "afoxé", "Pandêgos da África" (African Spree), also organized by Blacks. The groups represented African inheritance houses, and went to the streets singing and reciting music sequences. The "afoxés" made their exhibitions in Baixa dos Sapateiros, Taboão, Barroquinha, and Pelourinho, while the big clubs paraded in more noble areas. Nine years later, another "afoxé" broke up with this tacit agreement and went up Barroquinha and Ladeira de São Bento, causing protests in which the shattering of this unwritten pact of spatial class and rhythm division was the main focus. At the time, it was possible to verify a very serious special division in the city.

Dissidents from "Cruz Vermelha" founded, in 1900, the "Inocentes em Progresso" Carnival Club. The club's name (Progressing Inocents) was inspired by a group of boys that would pass by singing and playing percussion with cans.

In 1949, year of the 4th hundredth anniversary of the city's foundation, the "Filhos de Gandhy" "Afoxé" was founded by Salvador's port's stowers, as a way of honoring the great Indian pacifist leader murdered in 1948, Mahatma Gandhy.

The "Trio Elétrico" comes up

The following year, the famous "electric pair" appeared. After observing a parade with the famous "Vassourinha" - a Pernambuco Carnival entity which played "frevo" on Chile Streets- and carried away with the receptiveness of the entity by the public, the electric pair formed by Dodô and Osmar, decided to repair an Old 1929 Ford which had been kept in the garage for a long time. In the same year's Carnival, they went to the streets playing their "electric sticks" (type of electric guitar) on top of the car, with the sound reproduced by amplifiers. The presentation took place at 5 p. m. on Carnival Sunday, attracting a huge crowd to downtown streets.

The name "trio elétrico" came in 1951, when, for the first time, a group of three musicians presented in Carnival. The electric pair invited a musician and friend, Temístocles Aragão, to join the group and play on the streets of Salvador on a Chrysler pick-up, fargo model. bigger than the previous year's "fobica", whose side doors read "The trio elétrico".

Osmar played the famous "Bahia guitar", with a sharp sound. Dodô was i9n charge of the "electric guitar stick", with the deep sound, and Aragão was responsible for the "triolim", as the medium sound tenor guitar was known. The musical group was then formed.

In 1961, the first "Momo King" parade came up, role performed by the public worker and taxi driver Ferreirinha.

The following year, the first large Carnival Group (bloco), called "Os Internacionais" (the internationals) appeared, formed only by men. At that time, every moment a different trio elétrico popped out, although the blocos went to the streets accompanied only by drums or percussion groups. It was then when the well known ropes and "mortalhas" (outfits worn by the members of the bloco) came up. In 1965, by a presidential order, the fabrication, trade and use of "lança-perfume" (a squirter with a perfume-like substance used during Carnival), initially imported from France, then from Argentina, was prohibited.

The seventies

The seventies made Praça Castro Alves the peak of Carnival, the place where everybody met and where it was possible to do everything. It was the time of cultural, social and sexual liberation.

Up until then, the trios elétricos were basically allegoric vehicles, decorated almost exclusively with loudspeakers. The amplifiers were made of tubes and, on top of the trio, there would be musicians with "Bahia guitars", bass guitars, electrical guitars, and there was no lead singer.

Still in the seventies, the "Novos Bárbaros" were daring enough to put some sound boxes and transistorized equipment on the trio. Baby Consuelo showed up singing with a microphone plugged into a guitar cable.

"Colombina", composed by Armando Sá and Miquel Brito was officially recognized as Salvador's Carnival's anthem.

As if all the changes weren't enough, and even more radical one happened in the 1974 Carnival, with the appearance of the "Afro Ilê Aiyê" bloco. The entity, which started thew process of re-Africanization of the party, contributed to the arrival of the "Badauê" afoxé and to the re-birth of the "Filhos de Gandhy" afoxé. It was the dawn of Salvador's Carnival's cultural growth, as it began to put emphasis on conflicts and protest against racism.

In 1975 the "Dodô e Osmar" trio elétrico celebrated its 25th anniversary e definitely got back to the scene, after spending 14 years away. The group came back with a new formation, including the musician Armadinho, Osmar's son, and changed its name to "Trio Elétrico de Armadinho, Dodô e Osmar".

In 1976 the "Novos Baianos" trio elétrico arrived, introducing, along with Armandinho's trio the Bahia swing.

The following year, the samba groups that participated in Salvador's Carnival stopped parading. Although the trio blocos appeared in the beginning of the decade, it was only in 1978 that "Camaleão" started to overcome the amateurism that existed in the first trio blocos, marking their emergence in Salvador's Carnival. It was in the same year that the use of masks, previously a reason for people's joy and grace, began to be disappear. In spite of being an essential accessory to complete Carnival's costumes, the mask, which was also known as "careta", was also used to hide the shame of a joyful face from well known and indiscrete looks.

In 1979 the first meeting between an afoxé and a trio elétrico happened with the arrival of the song "Assim Pintou Moçambique", by Moraes Moreira and Antônio Risério, setting forth the process of "electric afoxé" of Bahia's current music.

The eighties

In the beginning of the eighties, Salvador's Carnival's transformation was even more intensified and the bloco "Traz os Montes" was responsible for some innovations, such as the assembly of a trio elétrico with transistorized equipment, installation of air conditioning to cool down and maintain the equipment in a reasonable temperature, replacement of the mouth-shaped loudspeakers by rectangular sound boxes, elimination of the traditional percussion which would lie on the sides of the trio and insertion of a band with drums, singer and other musicians on top of the trio.

In 1981, the "Eva" bloco, which first appeared in 1980 and was considered one of the most irreverent and innovative entities of Carnival, decided to dare more than Traz os Montes and hired engineers to plan the new trio and sound system's structural calculus, besides importing the whole system from the U.S.A. (with a new sound table and all the necessary gear to make the band and trio work perfectly). Thus, Eva made all the other blocos invest in their trios.

The public and critics began to distinctly notice the difference between their equipment and the others, as well as the quality of the singers and bands.

In the same year, the governor passed a law (Decreto nº 27.811) which determined the suspension of work on public offices on the Friday before Carnival.

A year later, there was such a great number of people on the streets of Salvador that people who traditionally went to Praça Castro Alves (intellectuals, professionals and travesties) were rather irritated with the invasion of this traditional liberal site. That year, the "mortalha" began to disappear as a Carnival outfit giving place to shorts or overalls.


In the 1983 Carnival, something close to 30 or 40 different new rhythms came up.

In 1988, for the first time an afro bloco, "Olodum" paraded in Barra; the year of celebration of 100 years of slavery banishment in Brazil, and the theme was "Bahia de todas as Áfricas" (Bahia of all Africas).

Carnival Dates (Monday and Tuesday before Ash Wednesday)

2003 - 2009

2003 March 3 and 4
2004 February 23 and 24
2005 February 7 and 8
2006 February 27 and 28
2007 February 19 and 20
2008 February 4 and 5
2009 February 23 and 24



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