Mardi Gras Carnival Art / February 21, 2019 / Cecelia Montgomery
Characterized by costumes bright decorations and general merriment often induced by the consumption of alcohol the celebration came close to being banned several times during the 19th century but the formation of a social organization (krewe) by six men and the resulting Carnival Parade on the evening of Mardi Gras in 1857 rejuvenated and restructured the mayhem. Though the festivities were halted for the duration of the Civil War they resumed in full force upon its conclusion. New krewes have been formed continuously since the first parade and are added as space allows annually.
In honor of the celebration that he knew was taking place in France on that very day he named the spot Point du Mardi Gras. As more settlers arrived from France the customs that they had practiced there slowly began to take shape into what we now know as Mardi Gras. As popular as Mardi Gras has become in the United States most people only know half of the Mardi Gras tradition. While many know that the celebration is related to Lent what many do not know is that it is also related to Christmas. Carnival as the actual season is known begins on the same date every year. Only the actual date of Mardi Gras changes. This date to kick of the Carnival season is January 6. The date is also referred to as 12th night.
Rio s Mardi Grad carnival is famed not only for its brilliant parades but its street parties the biggest of which is held on Cinelândia Square brimming with acclaimed orchestras and singers for people to dance the night away. The elaborate parades staged by the city s major samba schools in the Sambadrome are world famous. Parading in the Sambadrome runs over four entire nights and is part of an official competition divided into seven divisions in which a single samba school is declared that year s winner. As well as the five main parades visitors can enjoy the Carnival balls held around the city including the famous Magic Ball at the Copacabana Palace Hotel which requires guests to wear black tie or a luxury costume and often a number of international and local VIPs are in attendance.