Recife Carnival rituals

carnaval-de-recife_1420109324For many party-goers, having fun during the four days of revelry requires genuine rituals, starting long before the Sábado de Zé Pereira (the second day of Carnival). There are such magical traditions such as the costumes seen in Olinda and in the Bairro do Recife. Diario de Pernambuco set out to tell these stories, like that of Hallina Beltrão who, every year, dedicates the entire month of January to walking the streets of downtown in search of Carnival novelties, and that of Guilherme Vilanova, who decorates his home with Momo-esque themes to continue the traditions of his now-deceased father. They’re stories that translate a bit of the Carnival spirit of Pernambuco, that turn the days of revelry into moments of encounters and costumes. [1]

Frevo and feijoada

A feijoada watered down with beer, frevo and reunions. That’s how Carnival starts for a group of friends from the old Colégio Nóbrega. “The fun started back in our school days, when one of our friends’ mothers, Fátima, prepared feijoada on Carnival Friday, so we could have fund at the Galo da Madrugada (on Saturday). The following year, the event repeated itself and attracted other friends. The 10-person group from the first year transformed into a required pre-Carnival meetup with 200 people”, says one of the coordinators of the madness, singer Geraldinho Lins. The party, which has lasted 22 years, started happening two weeks prior to Carnival Saturday. “Feijoada is our preparation for Carnival but today it’s got its own status. Due to work demands, we go the whole year without seeing each other. So, it’s a way to meet up with friends”, Geraldinho reflects.

Party downtown

“My Carnival starts with the costume-making, with the purchase of accessories in downtown Recife. Without that, my Carnival wouldn’t be the same”. It was with that phrase that the designer Hallina Beltrão, 35 years old, started to tell her story of love for the festival. For more than 20 years, it’s basically a law of hers to walk down Rua das Calçadas to find the best decorations. “I already start to think about the costume months beforehand”, says Hallina. She says that she has some rituals in relation to her Carnival clothes. One of them is that the costume almost always has to be that of a clown. “They’re all so different, but always a clown. I change colors and what days I’ll join which blocos. From Carnival Thursday to Ash Friday, I only go outside as a clown”, says the designer, who is already anxiously awaiting the Momo days.

Giant on the wall

The Midnight Man, for more than 28 years, reigns on the walls of the home of journalist Guilherme Vilanova, 28. The tradition to decorate the house every year came from his father and it’s a sign that Carnival is coming. “Even when my father died and my brothers got married, my mother and I continued on. Today we take advantage of the time to invite over friends, both local and from other states, and everyone gets in the festive mood”, says Guilherme. According to him, other decorations are needed inside the rooms, such as masks and frevo umbrellas. “I can’t see myself spending Carnival without decorating the house. It’s a way of attracting happiness. I think that this is the great thing about Carnival”, he affirms.

Prototype Parade

An unpretentious joke, in 1999, started a pre-Momo tradition that got together a group of 15 friends. Every year, they go out dressed identically to the Galo da Madrugada, and the Saia da Justiça bloco, in Olinda. It’s all very organized. “The preparation starts in December, when we design and create the costume prototypes. Also in December, we do a bbq, and put on a prototype parade”, says public servant Ana Catarina de Lucena, 46, one of the “directors” of the fun. This year, the group hired two dressmakers to meet the demand. “We’ve got the idea of what we want and we’ll see if that costume works. The bbq is when we make adjustments”, she explains. According to her, in certain years the group brought together 50 people.

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