Rio de Janeiro's Carnival has grown in popularity in the international world, with thousands flocking to the Brazilian city for a glamorous, raucous street party filled with music, parade, food and drinks. This is an annual celebration held prior to the Christian tradition of Lent and forty-six days before Easter. Its purpose is to bid goodbye to eating meat and other bodily pleasures in accordance to the Lenten practice of abstinence and sacrifice. In fact, carnival came the term carnelevare, meaning “to remove meat.”
The festival was believed to have come from pagan celebrations, which was later on married to the Christian religious season for self-deprivation when pagans were converted into Christianity. The Carnival has already existed in its barest form—as a water splashing festival known as the Entrudo—as far back as the 18th century was introduced by Portuguesse immigrants to Brazil. This was outlawed for a time, but was brought back in the mid-19th century with as a more organized activity with improvements in the form of a group of people marching down through streets while playing musical instruments. A few years later, the Grandes Sociedades parade featuring spectacular costumes, music, flowers and dancing, wherein about eighty well-born and high-placed personalities joined. Other developments, such as the addition of characters like queens, kings, peasants and dancers, the wearing of masks, the introduction of competitions, and the performance of samba.
Today, Rio de Janeiro's Carnival usually lasts a week, with various minor parades, feasts, communal dances held leading up to the main parade which features competing floats, colorful mascots and attractive samba queens.