Carnival and Carnival Masks

Carnival started as a Catholic holiday. The Friday before Ash Wednesday begins the Carnival and ends at noon on Ash Wednesday.  Ash Wednesday then begins Lent. As a custom, generally, meat is not eaten. As the word Carnaval’ comes from the Latin expression ‘carne vale’ which translates as ‘farewell to the meat’.

Brazilian Carnival is a blend of traditions and cultures from the Portuguese colonists and African slaves.  Portuguese brought the festival, Entrudo, when they settled in Brazil. Africans had lively music and dance.  Gradually, both cultures merged together creating samba, a Brazilian dance, and took the party to street.

Presently, Carnival has bloomed into a celebration for ALL!  For five days, music, parades, and a carefree spirit unites people from Brazil and around the world.


Masks were part of the Brazilian culture and people before the Europeans brought them over in the 15th century.  At that time, the Catholic Church did not allow any non religious parties.  So people wore masks to hid themselves and play pranks. In 1840, a wife of an Italian hotel owner threw a lavish ball with extravagantly decorated masks and since then elaborate masks have become part of Carnival.