We have a saying in Brazil that the new year only starts after Carnival ends. This time last year, Brazilians were busy partying away in the lead-up to the traditional Carnival season. The week-long revelry seems to expand every year; pre-Carnival parties have become almost as exciting as the real thing, which, without the current restrictions, would be beginning on Friday. Among my friends I am among the least “Carnivalesque” but I still enjoy staying up late and watching the incredibly beautiful performances of the country’s best samba schools on television – the days off are welcome too.
On a trip to São Paulo at the turn of the year, I caught a sneak peek of some gigantic floats while driving past the hangar of a samba school. Sadly these floats will have to wait another year to be seen. This year there will be no samba schools performing in the sambódromo, no block parties on the streets and no costumes. It all represents a huge hit to the Brazilian economy: the newspaper Folha de São Paulo estimates that without the celebrations the country will lose 8bn reais (€1.2bn).
There will no doubt be online events this week but, it must be said, it is impossible to translate Carnival into a virtual format. The main ingredients of the event that defines Brazil are sweat, love, fun and communal celebration. I’ve found myself gaining a newfound appreciation for it; I hope that Carnival will never be cancelled again. And that means improving my hip-shaking moves in time for next year’s festivities.