Champions Parade in Rio After 2013 Carnival Close

G.R.E.S. Unidos de Vila Isabel are the 2013 Carnival Champions, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News

Another year of Carnival came to a close last Saturday (February 16th), it was closed by the winner’s parade. There was a huge crowd turnout to see the G.R.E.S. Unidos de Vila Isabel make their victory parade.

The night was opened with Grande Rio giving a performance examining the oil industry in Rio, and hinting at the desire for the city to retain its resources (which has been a controversy as of recently). Then came the Salguiero school, that hails from Tijuca, and was led by Viviane Araujo as they performed their “Fame” theme, which also featured dancers dressed as stars such as Marilyn Monroe. They also made a tribute to the victims of the recent night club fire disaster. Following them was the Imperatriz Leopoldinense school, whose theme gave them fourth place. Then came the champion from last year, Unidos da Tijuca, as they performed their theme based on the mythical god Thor. Next was Beija-Flor, 2013 runner up, whose theme celebrated horses throughout history. Lastly was the 2013 champion, Vila Isabel, who gave an energetic display of their theme that celebrated Brazil’s agriculture.

Monobloco Closes 2013 Carnival

Carnival officially ends on Fat Tuesday, which was last Tuesday, February 12th. However, 48 blocos continued to parade down the streets of Rio over the weekend. There was even an appearance from ‘Blue Man Group’. The group Monobloco closed out the ceremonies with it’s performance that drew 500,000.

Monobloco is well known for performing songs from other genres and performing traditional marches. The procession this year included four main songs: A Deusa dos Orixás“ (The Goddess of the Orixás, about Iemanjá, the goddess of the sea in the Candomblé relegion), “Timoneiro” (Helmsman), “Das maravilhas do mar” (The wonders of the sea”) and “Marcha do remador” (Song of the rower).

This large percussion type band was created in 2000, and always draws a large Brazilian following. Pedro Luis, along with members of his band “Pedro Luís e a Parede” created Monobloco. They are given credit for starting the now yearly trend of “bloco de rua”, which continues to grow each year and features small and big bands performing in Rio’s streets during Carnival.

“It is a great pride and responsibility for us to have enabled lay people to become musicians and often founding their own blocks” Pedro Luis says.

Some other performers included: Quizomba andFanfari.

Carnival 2013 Winner Announced

Unidos de Vila Isabel Carnival 2013, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News

On Wednesday afternoon, February 13th, G.R.E.S. Unidos de Vila Isabel was announced winner of this year’s Carnival in Rio. This marks the third championship for the samba school and the closing of Carnival.

Crowds and judges alike were amazed by Vila Isabel’s theme presentation: A Vila canta o Brasil, celeiro do mundo – Água no feijão que chegou mais um” (The Vila sings Brazil, world’s breadbasket – Add more water to the beans, one more has arrived). They were lead by Carnival designer, Rosa Magalhaes, who ensured the parade was maxed out with bright costumes and beautiful and elaborate floats. The theme song the school played during their parade was also highly praised, and could be heard being sung by people in the crowd throughout the rest of Carnival. It was composed by Brazilian composer, Arlindo Cruz.

The schools that were closely behind Vila Isabel were Beija-Flor, Unidos da Tijuca, and Empress Leopoldinense. But, once the scores were tallied on live television, Vila Isabel was the clear winner.

Vila Isabel will parade again amongst the other top five schools - Beija-Flor, Unidos da Tijuca, Imperatriz,Salgueiro and Grande Rio – on Saturday, February 16th at the Sambadromo.

You can watch a clip of Vila Isabel’s performance here:

[Pictures] Carnival 2013

Another year of Carnival has wound down in Rio, just in time for the beginning of Lent. Many of us weren’t able to make it to the world famous event, so here’s some pictures taken during this years Carnival celebration.

A Brief History of Carnival

Carnival is one of the best known and oldest traditions to date where cities the world over hold Carnival celebrations before the Catholic time of Lent, which is a time of fasting, self-denial, and prayer. Cities in each continent hold colorful Carnival celebrations each year, with Brazil actually holding the Guinness Book of World Records title of being the largest Carnival celebration in the world.

The exact beginnings of Carnival are still in dispute, but one thing’s for sure – it’s been around a while. The origins of Carnival as we know it today began in medieval Italy, but many of the rituals that are the make-up of this festival date back to pre-Christian times. For instance, the elaborate masked costumes featured in Carnival celebrations are thought to date back to Swabian-Alenannic carnival. Roman Festivals, such as Saturnalia and Bacchanalia, are also thought to have contributed to Carnival.

The Carnival celebrations that really laid the groundwork for present day Carnival began in Venice, Italy. From there it began to spread and take root all over Europe, including France, Portugal, Germany, and Spain, eventually making its way into North American, Latin American, and Caribbean cultures. The celebrations in these areas of the world are probably the ones you are most familiar with, such as Mardi Gras in Louisiana, Carnival in Brazil, and Carnival in Trinidad and Tobago.

How Carnival obtained its name is still in dispute. It’s widely believed that it comes from the Italian word Carne, which means meat, and that it possibly even further derived from the Italian phrase carne levare, which means “to remove meat”. This makes sense because it was common to refrain from eating any form of meat during Lent. Other scholars believe Carnival’s name originates from the Latin expression carne vale which means “farewell to meat” or “farewell to flesh”. There are also some historians that will argue that the name came from the Latin carrus navalis, meaning “ship cart”, and the Roman festival of Navigium Isidis, where celebrations were held to bless the start of the sailing season.

Whatever the true origins of Carnival may be – it’s a pretty phenomenal thing to be such a wide spread celebration of life, love, happiness, joy, and fulfillment that takes place in so many countries throughout the world.