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Costumes and Makeup During the Carnival Research Paper

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Carnival is the major holiday in Brazil. The nation comes to a virtual official standstill for the five days it spans with many millions taking part in carnival events, but many millions more simplify using the break to go to the seaside or country retreats and recharges their batteries in the middle of the broiling South American summer.

Carnival is a yearly festival in Brazil. During the 19th century, it is celebrated every year starting on Friday night and ends Ash Wednesday morning that marks the begging of lent. To welcome the carnival, thousands of Brazilian streamed to different venues in the city as elsewhere in the country and took part in the festivities. Costume and Makeup is the main part of the carnival. Without costume and makeup, we can’t imagine the carnival. It expresses Brazilian customs and culture. Most of the Samba Schools of Brazil arrange to celebrate the carnival. Actually, these Schools make enjoyable the carnival.


Every nation has its own culture, culture is the knowledge and faith of the people and trait of behaviour. Carnival is an important part of traditional culture because it bears the history of Brazilian cultures, festivals and it also upholds their co-existence. In this article, the reflection of Brazilian lives, cultures and behaviour has been attempted. In this article, by using the costume and makeup during the carnival how to express the Brazilian the reflection of their lives culture and behaviour have been attempted. In the past, it was celebrated colourlessly but in modern, it has vast popularity in the whole world. Every year a lot of travellers comes event and enjoy its mercial value.

The word carnival originates from the Latin “Carne Vale”, which translates as ‘farewell to the flesh’ – a meaning that reflects the role of carnival in the Roman Catholic calendar as a final celebration of indulgences of the flesh (food, drink and other earthly delights) before they were renounced for Lent. The carnival festival actually pre-dates these Christian associations, with possible origins in the ancient Greek spring festival in honour of Dionysus (the god of wine), and then adopted by the Romans in honour of Bacchus and Saturn. (Parry)

The Brazilian carnival is a celebration where all people are equal, all of them have the right to do or take part in anything. People wear the desirable dress that they made for the celebration. They wear this dress to dance and play water battles. The carnival is celebrated all over the country in Brazil but they are mainly concentrated in three places. They places are Rio de Janeiro, Salvador de Bahia Carnival and Olinda. Rio carnival is the biggest and largest celebration in the world. The Brazilian government has taken all kinds of initiatives to make the tourist attraction come and ensure their safety & security. Brazilian people are also friendly and intimate. They do not show interference with others matter. So the tourist feels it as their home. Now the carnival is so much popular that the tickets are sold within a week after starting ticket selling. These are some photos of the carnivals.

Costumes and Makeup During the Carnival

“Each school is an autonomous entity. A virtual “board of directors” governs the organization, collecting monies and distributing tasks. A professional theatrical director is always hired to produce the school’s annual parade show, which resembles a moving opera ballet on parade. Top composers are chosen to write the theme samba song, which always changes every year in each one of the schools. The song is a crucial element since it synthesizes the theme and propels the participants, all of whom are expected to memorize the words and belt them out while parading and dancing the samba.” (Yolen)

“Carnival is one of the biggest events in Brazil, if not the biggest. Originating in Roman bacchanalia or in the ancient Egyptian festival of Isis, carnival, when introduced in Brazil by the Portuguese, acquired African rhythms and Indian costumes. Carnival in Brazil is a genuine national celebration in which every inhabitant, no matter from what social class or ethnic background, participates. Carnival’s dates are:

  • 2004: 21-24 of February
  • 2005: 05-08 of February
  • 2006: 25-28 of February
  • 2007: 17-20 of February

In Rio and Salvador “Carnaval” is extended to the following weekend”.

Brazilian Carnivals.
Brazilian Carnivals.

History of the Carnival

Carnival Dates (Monday and Tuesday before Ash Wednesday)

2002 – 2009

  • 2002 February 11 and 12
  • 2003 March 3 and 4
  • 2004 February 23 and 24
  • 2005 February 7 and 8
  • 2006 February 27 and 28
  • 2007 February 19 and 20
  • 2008 February 4 and 5
  • 2009 February 23 and 24

(Source: Rosenberg)

Like the other world-famous important events, the Brazilian carnival has a long history. The ancient cannibal and the modern carnival have similarities but dissimilarity is much more. However, the philosophy is the same. Carnival is used to minimize the distance of social class and create a good relationship with them.

The origins of Carnival date back to the ancient Greek spring festival in honour of Dionysus, the god of wine. The Romans adopted the celebration with Bacchanalia (feasts in honour of Bacchus, the Roman equivalent to Dionysus), and Saturnalia, where slaves and their masters would exchange clothes in a day of drunken revelry (Rosenberg)

Saturnalia was later modified by the Roman Catholic Church into a festival leading up to Ash Wednesday. “It quickly evolved into a massive celebration of indulgences – one last gasp of music, food, alcohol, and sex before Lent – before the 40 days of personal reflection, abstinence, and fasting until Easter (not exactly what the Church probably had in mind). 40 days of purging sins, proceeded by a week filled with virtually every known sin. The word itself comes from Latin, “Carne Vale” or “Farewell to the Flesh”.(Rosenberg)

In the late 19th century carnival was introduced in Rio de Janeiro by the Portuguese. They formed groups of people who would parade playing music and dancing through the streets. Now we called them blocks (blocks), which contains a group of people who wear costumes or special dress or t-shirts according to the themes of the Carnival (Truvo).

Blocos are formed with particular neighbourhoods or suburbs. Blocos contains both a percussion or music group and a dancer group. Though it is the biggest event in Brazil as well as the celebration in the world, not more than 200 years ago it was treated as poor people’s celebration. At that time it was organized by the Boucher, fisherman, grocer, etc. They sing, dance and threw rotten food and fruits instead of water among the dancing people. But that turns into water throwing in the modern age. The government takes necessary steps to prevent any inconvenience to stop and prevent throwing dirty food and rotten fruits.

“The Rio carnival has everything we look for when we see this kind of event: magic, beauty, rhythm, grace, sensuality, and enjoyment. People who know about this carnival affirm that it hasn’t still celebrated its 200 years and that, like the other carnivals, its origin comes from old rituals and roman celebrations that took place in February. In the beginning, the Rio carnival looked like battles, battles that were organized by fishermen and butchers, those battles are represented in dances every year, like the decoration of the city, samba’s schools, contests, the election of the Momo King and the Queen, the wonderful costumes that are related with the topic represented by each samba school, etc” (CARNIVAL RIO)

At present carnival is the biggest and largest celebration and with the people of various nations and countries. Rio carnival now becomes the celebration of the world not single Brazil’s celebration. Its popularity is increasing day by day.

Carnival Etymology

Basically, Carnival means the public program, which is held on the street and where people wear various kinds of clothes, eat food and drink alcohol, Sing and dance. If we want to know the literary meaning of the word carnival, we have to search for the origin of the word.

“ From the beginning of Middle Age, the Catholic Church suggested an etymology for the word carnival: the ordinary Latin carne- levare, which means “to leave the meat” (what also meant that people should stop eating meat every Friday during the period of Lent).” (The Carnivals). “But it didn’t mean any sense, since the word carnival didn’t mean the end of festivities (events in where people always ate meat). Later, another etymology came out, is the one popularly known as the Italian word: Carnevale, which meant that during carnival time “the meat is allowed”, as a consequence people were allowed to eat meat.” (The Carnivals, Carnivals, n.d.)

But the Etymology does not stop here. As it was celebrated in India, there is an etymology regarding carnival. That is-

“But at the end of the XX century, many authors started to doubt about the pagan origin of that name. Carna is the Celtic Goddess of broad beans and pork. She would also be connected with Indian-European festivities worshipping the Karna God (The one who appears in the Mahabhárata as a human being, Pándavas older brother, son of the God of the Sun and the Queen Kunti).” (CARNIVALS)

Description of the carnival

In Rio de Janeiro there are 18 Samba schools that arrange mostly revelry, costumes, dancing and music. They also teach samba, provide educational and healthcare resources. Anyone who wants to join a street parade can join by buying a ticket from the Samba schools or paying money as a donation.

There are 18 “schools” that are authorized to make a presentation in the main parade. These schools (more like samba “teams,” really) tend to be neighbourhood-based, although they also attract participants from all social classes and geographical bases. The top two schools each year from a lower division are promoted to the main division, and the two worst finishers in the main division are demoted, to add incentive to the performances. (Carnival Carnival in Rio)

“Every year, samba schools in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, prepare for the fierce competition that is the city’s annual carnival parade. Their main challenge is to find new and innovative themes and produce high-impact costumes and floats to illustrate them”(Massarani, 16 February 2004). In two days celebration 8 schools out of 16 schools show on the first day and the other on the next day. They play non-stop music by changing the musicians continuously. People wear unique and different costumes.

More than just a percussion group! Liverpool Samba School has created over 10 years ago by my husband and wife creative team, Roger & Maeve Morris. Roger’s career as a professional percussionist spans the last 40 years and includes accolades such as performing with Martha Reeves & the Vandellas, The Real Thing, Jools Holland and Novo Balanço. Maeve, his wife of 30 years, produces almost single-handedly all of the exquisite costumes worn by the drummers and fabulous dancers from the Liverpool Samba School. They have delivered and participated in over 900 events in Brazil, Amsterdam, Ireland, and the UK. Liverpool Samba School hold the accolade for being the only non-Brazilian samba school to play in the Rio Carnival parade out of over 300 schools in the UK as well as many more in Europe. This is due to our ongoing partnership with Mangueira samba school the oldest school in Brazil and many times winner, and through our support of their social projects.

[Bem-Vindo. ]

They do all this for the parades samba dance. Besides this, they expense much to decorate them and took part in the competition of best costume or similar like this. The costume has a wider effect and people will continue it. The costume has a great commercial background. Once the people do not expend much on their costumes. They were not so rich but they have a strong desire to be something new. Thus the custom of wearing a peculiar dress comes. Now the celebration is not within the Brazilian it is now with the whole world. So costume has greater change objectives. During the carnival unlimited music, joy and sex are open for all. The girls use their costumes to show them more and to attract a man. To maintain the sexual needs every year thousands of prostitutes come to this carnival. They use it to sell different products and to satisfy their customers. For example Brahma’s bear-

Brahma's bear

This unique style increases the sales of the company and increases the need of the customers.

This unique style increases the sales of the company and increases the need of the customers.

Again, the costume has a greater effect on the wearer, to attract for sex. For this reason, the hotels are full, some are luxurious and expensive. Lots of girls sell their sex and a man or woman can enjoy his or her sexual life with anyone. Thus they use attractive and sexy costumes. “Carnival is all about fantasy. The creativity of the costumes was inspirational and had me laughing all day. There were people dressed as bees, rabbits and cats; sexy girls in leopard skins and bunny suits. There were fairies with wands, bodybuilders dressed as angels and red devils out to corrupt someone. There were babies in diapers, schoolgirls and nuns, teams of surgeons and Death with his scythe. There were crack teams of S.W.A.T armed with water pistols and even one guy dressed as a telephone booth.” (The carnival in Olinda). The following costumes are the parade’s costumes. These are used only once, for the parades. This costumes main objective is to make the parades colourful, bring the creative idea of fission and have lots of fun. The costumes worn are typical of the year 1700, and the maschera nobile are very common during this event, this is a kind of white mask that must be worn with black silk clothes and a three-peaked hat. After 1979, other colours have been added to the costumes, but in the case of the masks, these are still (most of them) white, silver and golden (VENICE CARNIVAL).

“Carnival is celebrated throughout Brazil. Each carnival is unique but there are unifying elements: all involve music, dancing, processions and costumes. Bruce and the crew experienced Carnival in Benjamin Constant: one of the first Brazilian towns on the Amazon. During the carnival, it is customary for men to dress as women and Bruce jumped at the chance to enter the ‘Queen of the Carnival’ competition, which awards a crown to the best-dressed ‘woman’. Carnival is celebrated at the same time throughout Brazil, just before the start of Lent, and the music, dancing and rituals draw on a mix of the cultural traditions of Brazil. It is common for the carnival to involve a transgression of social norms: for example, men dressing like women.” (Brazilian Carnival)

Brazilian Carnival
Brazilian Carnival
(Brazilian Carnival) (Brazilian Carnival)

But in some cases, they are like a maniac. For example

“The model Angela Bismarchi will lead her samba group at next month’s Rio Carnival and is having the procedure to celebrate 100 years of Japanese immigration to Brazil. It will be the 42nd time she has had plastic surgery and she is closing in on the world record of 47 held by American Cindy Jackson. Bismarck will dance ahead of a drum group of 300 people, hoping her sculpted beauty as a “percussion queen” will lead her samba team to win the championship.” (Model’s Eye Surgery, 2008)

The following is an attractive sexy woman’s costume. She used it to make her more attractive.

sexy woman's costume.

Here is one of the models of Brazil on the catwalk.

The costumes are different from their environment. The following is a bikini-wearing on a beach. These are the common scenario on the beach. Here one can enjoy the natural beauty as well as the beauty of human beings. It is like heaven to enjoy one sexual life. The beauty full girls are always ready to welcome you. They are friendly and very much intimate. Here one may find a little problem to communicate for language barriers. The girls are smart enough but all of them so not experts in English.

Brazilian beaches

Brazilian beaches are wide open to enjoy life.

“Girls and guys in Brazil are generally very sexually liberated. The body itself is a cult and an end unto itself. You go to the beach in Rio de Janeiro on the weekend and the sands are full of beautiful bodies getting their tan. In Rio in particular there must be a higher density of beauty salons and gyms than anywhere in the world. All the guys want big muscles and the girls want to look hot”(Guide to the Girls of Ipanema). “The Brazilian city of Recife will distribute so-called morning-after pills to women during its annual five-day carnival, which begins Friday. Public prosecutors rejected a Catholic Church lawsuit Tuesday that said the initiative promotes sex and may cause abortions. Prosecutor Ivana Bothello told the French news agency AFP that the pill has no abortive effect and its distribution is in no way an incentive to have sex” (Brazilian Carnival Distributes).

The above statement clears the freedom of the carnival. It is a wide-open celebration where the narrow cannot find a narrow place to hide. Sometimes the costumes are used only to make a new idea to have fun and the business wants its advertisement to get closer to the consumers. Here, it’s an advertisement for playboy.

Brazilian girls love football

Brazil is fond of football. Brazilian girls love football as much as to strut their stuff.

The Gays in the Carnival

Carnival opens the way for free sex. It is the huge gatherings of different people. People feel full freedom here. Thus the gays enjoy a great opportunity in Brazil’s carnival. They can easily communicate and stay together. Carnival gives the opportunity to wear any dress and gays enjoy it very much. Carnival has no restriction on homosexuals. Rather the environment creates the opportunity for homosexuals. Every year in every carnival there gathered many homosexuals. They enjoy themselves. Homosexuals increase after the passing of the bill in the US parliament of homosexuals.

The reason of use costumes in the carnival: Focus on Olinda

Costumes are the most attractive thing in the carnival. It makes a carnival colourful and lively. Every year we can distinguish the carnival from the past only by the sight of the costumes. Basically, Rio carnival has a business perspective and Olinda carnival has a philosophical and cultural perspective. For the following reasons, the costumes are important –

It conveys the theme of the carnival

The carnival conveys a theme. People were dress regarding the theme, especially those who join in the parade of Olinda carnival.

“The Giant Puppets are an attraction by themselves. Made in paper-maché, dozens of these huge figures ( up to 5 meters or 15 feet) parade along the streets every year. The most famous puppet is the Homem da Meia-Noite (Man of Midnight) who, since 1932, at midnight of the Saturday, officially starts the carnival in Olinda; siding the Man, a multitude of rhythms, including frevo, afoxés, Carlinhos and maracatu.” (RECIFE, n.d.).

  • It encourages the participants: Olinda is more open than Rio carnival and in Brazil Olinda carnival is more popular. “In Rio, the main attraction is the parade of samba schools, which take place inside a closed arena, called Sambódromo; in Olinda, no place is closed: every street and every corner in the Historic Center are taken by the partiers.” (RECIFE, n.d.).
  • It beautifies people and makes outlook beautiful: Suring the carnival people various dress and costumes which beautify them. It makes people as well as the carnival attractive. Every carnival there sits a competition to select the most beautiful.
  • Costumes give a new look every year and make the celebration colourful: Various colours of the costumes make the parade colourful. It gives an enchanting view of the carnival.
  • It increases the joy of the carnival: It has been found that when people wear new clothes, they feel charmed and feel encouraged in every work. In the same way, when people wear new costumes at the carnival they feel much more joy.
  • It increases the performance of the participants: As the new and creative makes people attractive, they feel proud of their costume and caused better performance.
  • It increases the beauty of the person: Carnival costumes increase the joy of purple as well as the beauty of the people.
  • It helps to fulfil one’s desire. (as poor takes the costume of a king, and the rich take the costume of a poor, etc.
  • It increases sexual attraction: Sex in the part of the parcel in Olinda. Olinda’s beach is good for girls, dates and enjoys sexual life. Thus the girls, as well as boys of Olinda, wear attractive costumes to beautify them.
  • It helps the business to sell and advertising a business product: Olinda’s beach is good for lots of fun and enjoyment. It is an ideal place for alcohol and beer. Thus the Business Company’s salesman and the concerned people wear costumes to have fun as well as to attract customers and increase sales.
  • It creates the competition of getting out look beautiful: It is a common nature of human being to try to make him/her more beautiful than others. Costumes are a great tool to do this. Thus in Olinda, it is common scenario to engage silent competition among people.
  • It contains the message of a culture: Costumes is the great identity of a culture. Thus the Indian, Arabian or the western culture can be differing from each other. In carnival people try to show their culture in costume.
  • It helps fashion designing and makes creative design: The different types of costumes and their innovation of new costumes, Influencing culture and helps the fashion designers to think about new fashion designing.


Rio carnival is the largest and finest celebration in the world. It is really a heavenly thing to the earth. When the world is interrupted with the terrorism and war, Carnival is brings the peace, happiness and love among the people as well as nations. It has already connected the people of the world; thousands of visitors-tourists join to the carnival every year. They visitors convey the message of humanity and love, and make friendly relationship between countries. It is a huge event to share culture between countries. The scope and area of the carnival is broader much more than the ancient one. In past age carnival helps to minimize the class difference in the society. Now it minimizes the class difference as well as the communicational and cultural gap. Here it we should aware about the morality. Lots of businesses are rising up regarding the carnival. Businesses help the carnival to make it enjoyable and successful. We should not let the businesses to capture the carnival.


Model’s Eye Surgery to Look Japanese, 2008, A Brazilian model is having nylon wires implanted in her eyes to give them an oriental slant. Web.

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Brazilian Carnival Distributes. Web.

Brazilian Carnival, Web.

Brazilian Carnivals, “Rio de Janeiro -Salvador de Bahia – Recife & Olinda” Copyright: Condor Journeys & Adventures Ltd – Brazil Holidays. Web.

Bruce Brazilian Carnival. . Web.


Guide to the Girls of Ipanema in Rio de Janeiro , Copyright ©2004 Tom Thumb. Web.

Massarani, Luisa. (2004),, Web.

Parry, Bruce. (n.d). Brazilian Carnival. Web.

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Rosenberg, Dan. History of Carnival in Brazil. Dedicated to African music and e music of the African Diaspora The carnival in Olinda – Christian Festival or Sex Party? Web.

The Carnivals, Carnivals, ( n.d.) Web.

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Yolen, Steve. Carnival, Carnival in Rio Still the Greatest Show on Earth, © Rio Custom Tours & Relocation Services. Web.

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