I was so happy we managed to get to Moncarapacho for the second day of their 120th carnival. We arrived shortly after the start time, which meant it was easy to park since the parade never starts on time and most people come later in the afternoon. However there was a good crowd even around 3pm and quite a few of the floats were ready and waiting to get going on their 3hour continuous loop between Praça Major João Xavier de Castanheda e a Rua Prior Simas.
Now whilst the rain held off for us, which was a bit of a miracle given the forecast, the clouds didn’t. However it wasn’t long before the dark and forbidding skies were forgotten as the streets filled up with thousands of colourful paper flowers, feathers and joy!
According to SulInformação the first carnaval in Moncarapacho was in 1899 when Spanish students in masquerade roamed the village on what is known in Portugal as ‘Domingo Gordo’ (fat Sunday) and then again on the following Tuesday, the day we know in England as Shrove Tuesday and the Portuguese call ‘dia de Entrudo’.
As with many Christian festivities the origins however are pagan, in this case reflecting communities celebrating the end of winter and the beginning of spring. According to Wikipedia the earliest written reference of ‘Entrudo’ is 13th century, although Wikipedia and a quite a few other websites also highlight that the current use of the word stems from 17th century Portuguese carnival celebrations in Brazil. Brazil was part of Portugal for more than three hundred years, and for fifteen years, during the Napoleonic wars, the Portuguese monarchy lived in Brazil. I wonder what they all would have made of the 120th Moncarapacho carnaval!
The main theme for this year’s carnaval was of ‘PopArt’ and interestingly this resulted in mostly American TV shows and popular films. There were hobbits, multiple Snow Whites and Fred Flintstones, as well as Disney versions of Little Red Riding Hood and Cinderella.
The costumes were wonderful, and the details and number of paper flowers on the floats incredible. However i was pleased that not everything had been Americanised and that there were a few moment of traditional Portuguese satire and complete randomness!
And there there was the music. Not only were there loud speakers on every corner playing Portuguese and Brazilian music, there were also a couple of bands who nipped in and out between the floats.
There were meant to be twelve floats in total and around 500 revellers but I am sure there were more floats than that. Or maybe it was just the effect of the continuous loop!
The variety and colour certainly made for a unforgettable parade, and thanks to the wonderful stilt walkers for whom the cobbles and slopes seemed as easy to walk on as tarmac (how do they do that?!) I even found a Spiky Square for me! Can you spot the ballerina pointes?
It was such a lovely and fun way to spend Shrove Tuesday. And whilst I struggled with the light and photography at times, I made sure I didn’t miss out on the kisses!