A happy new year from Brazil!

Well, you may say, the year 2010 is not all that new any more, except in China, where they celebrated the new Year, the year of the tiger, just on February 14th, while in large parts of the Western world, couples exchanged Valentine’s Day gifts and swore each other eternal love during a romantic candlelight dinner behind windows covered in snow.

In Brazil, none of these customs have been given much importance during those days: it was Carnival. Samba dancers with coffee brown skin in colorful costumes were to be admired in the Sambodromo stadim in Rio de Janeiro and on television screens in Brazil and all over the world. Giant caricature statues of politicians and celebrities were carried through Olinda’s Baroque streets.

In Salvador on Brazil’s North-East coast, popular bands played Axé music and percussion rhythms from giant trucks, so called “Trio Eletricos”, completely covered in loudspeakers, and made millions of people from all over the world dance along the palm-tree lined beach promenade. From Thursday to Tuesday, from noon till dawn, the city gets carried away in a non stop celebration. And even on Ash Wednesday the party is not over yet. Whoever can still stand on his own legs takes part in the “Arrastao”, in which the best bands play this year’s most poplar songs over and over, mixed with songs dealing specifically with the yearning for the next Carnival. Simultaneously, in Rio, the winner’s parade features the best of the best of this year’s samba school contest and the shows com to a dazzling climax.

Only the next day, on Thursday, all is over: the carnival, and with it the Brazilian summer, the time of festivals, shows, travel and vacation, which began for many in the Christmas days. And only when the carnival is over, when all of the costumes shown, all new songs are played and all festivals are celebrated, only then is the time for life to go back to its normal rhythm. This is when schools and universities, shops and offices get busy and lively again. Therefore, Brazilians say: the new year begins after the carnival – regardless of religions and calendars.

A happy new year from Brazil!

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