The Carnival of Brazil, properly spelled "Carnaval" in Portuguese, is an annual festival in Brazil held forty days before Easter. On certain days of Lent, Roman Catholics and some other Christians traditionally abstained from the consumption of meat and poultry, hence the term "carnival," from carnelevare, "to remove (literally, "raise") meat." Carnival celebrations are believed to have roots in the pagan festival of Saturnalia, which, adapted to Christianity, became a farewell to bad things in a season of religious discipline to practice repentance and prepare for Christ's death and resurrection.
Rhythm, participation, and costumes vary from one region of Brazil to another. In the southeastern cities of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, organized parades led by samba schools are influenced in aesthetics by Venice Carnival. Those official parades are specific to be watched by the public, although minor parades (called blocos) allowing participation can be found in other cities. The northeastern cities of Salvador, Porto Seguro and Recife have organized groups parading through streets, and public interacts directly with them. This carnival is heavily influenced by African-Brazilian culture. Crowds follow the trio elétricos floats through the city streets. Also in northeast, Olinda carnival features unique characteristics, part influenced by Venice Carnival mixed with cultural despections of local folklore.
Carnival is the most famous holiday in Brazil and has become an event of huge proportions. The country stops completely for almost a week and festivities are intense, day and night, mainly in coastal cities. The consumption of beer accounts for 80% of annual consumption and tourism receives 70% of annual visitors. The government distributes condoms and launches awareness campaigns at this time to prevent AIDS dissemination.
Santa Teresa is the name of a neighbourhood in the city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It is located on top of the Santa Teresa hill, by the centre of Rio, and is famous for its winding, narrow streets which are a favourite spot for artists and tourists.
The neighbourhood originated around the Santa Teresa Convent, built in the 1750s on the Desterro hill. At the end of the 19th and early 20th century it was an upper class borough, as testified by its magnificent mansions, many of which are still standing.
In 1896, the Carioca Aqueduct, a colonial structure that used to bring water to the centre of Rio, was converted into a bridge for The Santa Teresa Historic Tramway (bondinho). The old tram is still in use today - the only one in Rio - and is a popular attraction among tourists. The ride starts in the city centre, near the Largo da Carioca square, crosses the old aqueduct and goes through the picturesque streets of the neighbourhood. Wonderful views of the city downhill can be appreciated.