Carnival in Rio: The Beginning of Lent

This year, I am in Rio de Janeiro as Christians around the world begin the season of Lent and await Easter which occurs on April 5. Lent is a period of sadness and reflection. To me. it is very similar to Yom Kippur. Fasting, meditation, penance are key to this period. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday which this year is on February 18 and ends on Saturday April 4. During Lent, many Christians give up something important in their lives. Items of food are most commonly given up.


The day immediately before the beginning of Lent is called Mardi Gras, Pancake Tuesday, Shrove Tuesday, or Fat Tuesday.

The carnivals and parties which traditionally precede Lent are seen as a last opportunity for excess before Lent begins. Some of the most famous carnivals are the Cologne Carnival, the New Orleans Mardi Gras, the Rio Carnival, the Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, the Trinidad and Tobago Carnival, and the Carnival of Venice.

The celebration here in Rio de Janiero is awesome. The parties and hoopla actually began over a week ago. Many businesses were closed on the Saturday and Sunday prior to the start of Lent. Most were closed on Shrove Tuesday.

Sunday night’s Carnival parade at the stadium was spectacular, despite the rain. The parade has six segments which run for around 1.5 hours each.  The competition among the various Samba Schools exposes tourists and spectators to exotic Brazilian music and dance moves.

I wish all my friends who observe Lent a very meaningful period as the miracle of Easter approaches.


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