Mardi Gras Carnival Art / February 19, 2019 / Laurel Hawkins
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.
The parade continues from one end of the village to the other with most of the village inhabitants either looking from their windows or standing on the pavements and cheering on the flambeaux carriers. The whole thing reaches it s climax after about 45 minutes when the torches are thrown off the bridge and into the River Earn with the idea that with them all the village demons then float away and arrive at the next village. Across the Atlantic Ocean all the way to New Orleans at the Mardi Gras parade the highlight for many is also the Flambeaux Procession.
The celebration of the last day before Lent dates back to at least the Middle Ages when men of noble lineage or accomplishment were knighted and formal banquets took place to honor the occasion. Mardi Gras which means Fat Tuesday in French as an alternate name for Shrove Tuesday was established in New Orleans while the city was under French control and was maintained as a major festival even when the territory was relinquished into Spanish hands as well as after the Louisiana Purchase was signed and the state of Louisiana officially joined the Union.