Brazilian carnival – Brazilian Portuguese expressions about carnival

Brazilian carnival - Learn how to use portuguese expressions about carnival

Brazilian carnival – Expressions about carnival used in Brazil

Hello there and welcome to our  Portuguese Basic Tips episode called Brazilian carnival

On today’s podcast we are going to explain to you some expressions used in Brazilian carnival.

Well, have you ever listened to a Brazilian musician called Jorge Benjor? He sings a song called “país tropical”

“Moro em um país tropical / Abençoado por Deus e Bonito por natureza/ Que beleza, em fevereiro tem carnaval”. Yeah, he says “In February, it is carnival”. We are in February, so that let’s talk about Brazilian carnival.

Click on the link and listen to our previous episode about the expression mesmo in Portuguese

This is the kind of celebration that many people here love and many others don’t. But why they don’t like it? Well, there’s a stigma attached to it. Many people say that it is a shame; Brazil only starts working after carnival has passed, which it’s true. And why many people like it?

Because they say that “carnival is a Brazilian typical party”, which is also true – at least in part.

Whether you like it or not, this is the kind of thing you’ll need to know about Brazil, if you are interested enough about our culture.

On today’s podcast, we are going to speak about the main cities that celebrate carnival in Brazil and what happens there at this time of the year. We’ll speak about Brazilian carnival in Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Recife and Salvador.

For those who do not know, carnival (we pronounce carnaval)  is a party that takes place in February in Brazil.

People that we call “foliões” go to the streets to celebrate it during 4 days.

Contrary to what may seem, this is not a party originated in Brazil, but in Greece and Rome. Over time, this became a strong element of our popular culture.


Carnival in São Paulo

São Paulo is well known as a place where people work hard. It is, by far, the center of this country – when we speak about business. Because of that, here we have many people who don’t like this time of the year. However, carnival in São Paulo is beginning to grow up. I mean, more and more “foliões” go to the city in search for the “escolas de samba” and “blocos de carnaval”.

Click on the link to listen to our Todo Mundo Pod about things to do in Sao Paulo (Portuguese only)

The word “foliões” comes from “folia”, that means “an animated celebration”. Here in Brazil, we use this word to designate carnival party.

Escolas de Samba (samba schools) are associations characterized by dancing, singing and competition with other “escolas”. Those kinds of competitions are usually broadcasted throughout Brazil.

Blocos de carnaval (Carnival blocks) are groups of people – foliões – who go to the streets in a more or less organized way and they follow a predefined path.

In São Paulo you’ll find both: blocos de carnaval and escolas de samba.

Carnival in Rio de Janeiro

In Rio de Janeiro you’ll also find blocos de carnaval, but this city is known for having the biggest competition among escolas de samba of the country, such as Mangueira, Portela, Mocidade, Unidos da Beija-flor and so forth.

Click on the link to know what to do in Rio de Janeiro (Portuguese only)

At this time of year, tourists from all over the world travel to Rio de Janeiro to see the show. This is – with no doubt – an event that increases the number of people coming to Brazil.

In such places you’ll may hear expressions like passista, which means “a dancer”; mestre-sala, who is a guy that runs the escola de samba and porta bandeira. Porta bandeira is a person carrying the flag of the escola de samba.

Carnival in Salvador

Salvador is the capital of the State of Bahia. They have a different kind of “folia”. People in Salvador usually listen to “música bahiana or axé” instead of samba.  Axé is a kind of song originated in Bahia. They walk behind a “trio elétrico”. Trio elétrico is a big car equipped with musical instruments, bands and amplifiers and that follows a defined path.

Click on the link to listen to our Todo Mundo Pod called things to do in Salvador (Portuguese only)

Carnival in Recife

Recife is the capital of the state of Pernambuco and they also have a different kind of folia. People there love to fantasize; they love to wear fantasies to dance “frevo”.

Click here to listen to our Todo Mundo Pod about Recife (Portuguese only)

Frevo is a typical musical rhythm of this region.  They also follow a trio elétrico. Again, repeat with me: trio elétrico.

Ok, they also follow a trio elétrico, but you can find “blocos de carnaval” e “escolas de samba” em Recife.

Click on the link to read an historory about a travel to Recife (Portuguese only)

If you want to go to some carnival party in Brazil, okay, I think it’s great, but do not forget that this is a celebration that brings together crowds of people, so be careful about your safety and about your health as it can be quite exhausting.

Click the link to visit a glossary containing expressions used in the Carnival of Brazil (Portuguese only)

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That’s enough for today.

I hope you like it.

See you next time.


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