RIO DE JANEIRO – At the time of writing, day four of the 2010 Carnival is still in full swing, but when this is read, it will be over. Lent will then start on Ash Wednesday, the 17th of February and will continue for 46 days until Saturday, the 3rd of April.
It appears that a lot of people have a lot of Lent’ing to do, judging by the enthusiasm for Carnival celebrating this year.
Lent, the period of prayer and fasting in preparation for Easter, is forty days long, but there are 46 days between Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent in the Roman Catholic liturgical calendar, and Easter.
The reason takes us back to the earliest days of the Church. Christ’s original disciples, who were Jewish, grew up with the idea that the Sabbath—the day of worship and of rest—was Saturday, the seventh day of the week. So, even Lent apparently takes a break, although I’m no expert.
Never-the-less, it is this preparation for Lent that defines the origination of Carnival, and Brazil’s own unique history. While Carnival may be most associated with Rio de Janeiro, all across Brazil there are amazing celebrations. The entire country seems to stop for four (or fourteen) days to samba in the streets and blow off steam.
When the party ends though, as all must, and we’re watching the Sambódrome samba school winners announced, cleaning up the city and counting our cans, then we get back to business as usual. Political corruption, colossal oil speculation, and fútbol (soccer) all keep us on the edge of our seats.
It’s also been a month since the Haiti earthquake tragedy, and as the dust settles, we can try to look forward, and start the year in earnest. Perhaps the biggest news for Rio continues to be the 2016 Olympics, which seems to be driving the real estate market in Barra especially, as well as new industry opportunities all around Brazil.
All enthusiasm remains tempered though, as our Opinion writers this week comment on the interesting, illegal, but tolerated “Jogo Do Bicho” gambling racket, and the unbalanced progress towards first world impressions.