Carnaval

Hopeful sign? Brazil's Christian right and secular left want Carnaval to cover up and tweak its tunes

Hopeful sign? Brazil's Christian right and secular left want Carnaval to cover up and tweak its tunes

These are not happy days in Brazil, the South American colossus that's home to more Roman Catholics than any other nation. Political, economic, social, and health problems abound, as does crime.

Plus there's this: Brazil's famed and raucous carnival season, Carnaval, as it's called in Portuguese -- the pre-Lenten blow out that begins this weekend and ends the first week of March (exact dates vary by city) -- has been caught up in the nation's very own culture war.

Interestingly, both Brazil's conservative evangelical and Pentecostal Christian communities and the nation's secular left are both upset at what until now have been hallowed carnival traditions.

Conservative Christians are upset by the striking, to put it mildly, amount of female flesh on display during Carnaval. (Unfortunately, evangelical and Pentecostal are often incorrectly used interchangeably in news reports about conservative Brazilian Christians in the American press.)

Meanwhile, the progressive left says it's time to do away with long-popular carnival songs featuring racist, sexist and homophobic lyrics.

The Washington Post ran this solid overview of the situation. Here's a taste of the Post story that notes how the right-left criticism has already impacted carnival traditions.

Brazil’s increasingly powerful evangelical church and its progressive movements are both pushing to refine Carnaval to match their often opposing priorities. As a sign of the times, the Brazilian city of Olinda, famous for its street festival, has two new additions this Carnaval: a “Gospel zone” and an “LGBT zone.”

I guess it's up to visitors to make sure they don't stumble into the wrong zone. (I'm jesting, folks.)

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