Today is the day folks. Whether you think of it as Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras, Shove Tuesday, Pancake Day or, as the Brazilians know it, Carnaval, today is a day to celebrate. For you Catholics out there today marks the last day before the beginning of Lent. Lent refers to both the 40 day period prior to Easter Sunday and the tradition of fasting from certain foods or practices. In the US you’ll find most people practicing Lent by giving up a food they love, typically junk food. My Grandpa Lloyd for example would always give up watermelon for Lent. Which worked out particularly well for him since you generally couldn’t get it during Lent anyway.
But, I’m not here to talk about Lent. I’m here to talk a very small bit about Carnaval. No, it’s not spelled wrong. Carnaval is the correct Portuguese spelling of Carnival and is probably the most well known event in Brazil. Carnaval consists of a number of days worth of partying, dancing and parading culminating the four days before Ash Wednesday. Groups will congregate and form blocos which assemble and then parade throughout the city. In Rio de Janeiro you get the addition of the local Samba schools who compete in the four night Sambadrome. Which, never have been to Carnaval I can only assume is very similar to Thunderdome. That’s probably not true at all, but it would be awesome.
If you’re looking for a party but sadly don’t have decorations to make it happen head on over to Leblon’s website and pick up your very own Leblon Carnaval Kit. The kit comes complete with masks, beads, glow sticks, and even a music CD to put your party in the right mood. Add to that some Caipirinhas and you’ll be set for a night of partying.
In honor of Carnaval and Mardi Gras tonight I’m hosting a cachaça tasting at my house complete with homemade gumbo in true New Orleans style. I’ll be posting the results later in the week.