Teachers, scroll down for a quick list of key resources in our Teachers’ Toolkit.
- Read through our terrific encyclopedic entry on the cultural geography of South America. Search or scroll down to the short section on the Carnival of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. What is Carnival?
- Why is Brazil’s Carnival in the news now?
- Carnival starts today—Friday, February 13.
- What are samba schools?
- Samba schools are large social groups, often with thousands of members, which create elaborate floats and costumes for the Carnival parade.
- What are blocos?
- Blocos, an older Carnival tradition, are smaller groups that often gather in neighborhoods to dance during Carnival festivities.
- Read through the Guardian article about Carnival 2015 festivities. How are cutbacks impacting samba schools and blocos in Brazil this year?
- In Brasilia, local authorities have cancelled the samba school parade for the first time since 1983.
- In Rio, blocos lost crucial financial support from corporate sponsors, and two events had to be canceled.
- Ten towns in the states of Sao Paulo and Minas Gerais canceled Carnival activities altogether.
- Why are samba schools and blocos facing such cutbacks?
- Finance: Brazil’s economy is in a downturn right now. Authorities in Brasilia canceled the parade to help plug a $1.4 billion debt, while lower profits caused corporate sponsors to back out of funding the bloco events.
- Drought: Brazil is experiencing terrible drought. Homes, restaurants, bars, and hotels are on strict water-rationing, going without running water for up to five days a week. “The bars don’t even have water in their toilets,” says one authority in Sao Paulo, and untreated water will be used to clean the streets after the festivities.
- Why is this news—why does the cancelation of Carnival festivities matter so much to Brazilians?
- The drought would matter regardless of the timing. Brazil has an enormous agricultural sector, and the drought is crippling its already-stressed economy. It is also impacting health-care in Brazil. According to the Guardian, “With water rationing in effect in some places, Brazilians have been stockpiling water. But improperly covered water tanks are a fertile breeding ground for mosquitoes. Nationwide, cases of dengue fever were up 57% year-on-year this January.”
- Carnival is one of the most profitable enterprises in the Brazil. Thousands of tourists flock to Rio’s enormous sambadrome, paying hundreds of dollars to watch the parade. Last year (2014), about 1.6 million tourists came to Brazil for the long Carnival weekend, with about 920,000 visiting Rio. Carnival tourism generated about $1.5 billion.
Rio Carnival Services : FAQ about 2015 Rio Sambadrome Tickets