Dancing Devils of Corpus Christi 2020

Diablos Danzantes

Devils parade through the streets, shake maracas and beat drums. It looks like all the evil came out from Inferno to mischief and have fun among people. But no, in fact, it is Venezuela’s one of the biggest catholic holidays – Corpus Christi, renowned all over the world for devil masked frantic dancing.

The idea of the festival is to celebrate the victory of good over evil. However, the festival’s old-century tradition, Diablos Danzantes, makes an impression as if dark forces defeated good, but not vice versa. Nowhere in the world, you will find an analog to this holiday and for a good reason, Dancing Devils of Corpus Christi became recognized as Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO.

THE HISTORY OF DANCING DEVILS

There are different stories of how this festival emerged. Some people believe in the myth about the San Francisco de Yare brotherhood. According to that myth, hundreds of years ago there was a priest without a penny to hold the procession of Corpus Christi who said: “If there is no means nor believers to carry the Blessed Sacrament in procession, then the devils come!”. After a storm, several devils show up in front of the church. Since then in San Francisco de Yare, the tradition of dressing up as devils and dancing through the streets has appeared.

Another version, which tells about the roots of the holiday is probably a more realistic one. Historians claim that devil dancing procession originates from the combination of a Spanish religious ritual and some traditions of African slaves, that were brought from their native land, to sweat on cocoa and sugar plantations for Spanish masters. Indeed, if to analyze Diablos Danzantes with its hypnotizing drumbeats, flashy costumes and wild dancing in huge masks, it reminds a bit Festima (The International Festival of Masks and Arts) in West Africa, world-known for its eccentric mask performance.

Diablos Danzantes

Nowadays old-century tradition evolved into a huge celebration that takes place through the eleven neighborhoods in central coastal regions of Venezuela on the 9th Thursday after Holy Thursday. The traditions of celebrating Corpus Christi differ in every region.  For example, in Naiguatá, a town in Vargas, the dancers don multi-colored costumes with masks usually representing marine animals. The main specialty of the celebration in this town is the right of women to dance with men on equals, while in other regions it is strictly prohibited. No doubts that the town  Naiguatá hosts a breathtaking celebration. Other towns, like Cata, Cuyagua, Turiamo, Chuao, Patanemo, San Rafael de Orituco, Tinaquillo, San Millán can boast about not less exciting, and eye-catching festivities too. However, the biggest celebration, the most impressive and annually swarmed by myriads of tourists, takes place in San Francisco de Yare, in the state of Miranda. This event is definitely worth visiting.

Diablos Danzantes

WHAT TO EXPECT FROM DANCING DEVILS OF CORPUS CHRISTI

The celebration commences on Wednesday the day before Corpus Christi with a meeting of the Devil Dancer’s Confraternity. Dancing devils gather for dancing and blessing ceremonies and prayers to protect the men and young boys who will take a part in the procession from bad lack, evil powers or any spiritual harm. Dancers are also known as “promeseros” (from Spanish “pledgers”) because they make a pledge to dance on Corpus Christi for a certain number of years or for the whole life. By dancing, people ask God for a favor, for instance, to cure their family member of long or rare disease or the one that put at risk the life of a person. When the sun comes up, the streets are filled with the dancers in red extravagant robes with accessories such as scapulars, crosses,  rosaries and of course elaborately made handcraft masks depicting devil. They parade through the city, playing mischief and dancing around to the tunes of Venezuelan cuatro (small guitar which has four strings and resembles a ukelele), maracas and drums. Closer to the midday, the masked prankish devils congregate in front of the church. There you will see the spectacular performance. In front of excited crowds, devil dancers pretend to attack the church and fight with guardians. Again and again, devils attack, but each time they are repelled. Finally, after a row of unsuccessful attacks, the devils accept defeat and kneel in front of the Eucharist to show obedience and respect. Such an ending shows the main meaning of the holiday  – the Triumph of Good over Evil.

Diablos Danzantes

Diablos Danzantes

DOS AND DON’TS AT CORPUS CHRISTI

DON’TS. Do not stop yourself from visiting Corpus Christi because of the stereotypes about Venezuela imposed on society by social media. Yes, Venezuela is not the safest place in the world, however, it does not mean that you will become a victim of a crime as soon as you cross the border of Venezuela. Just follow the simple rules: do not walk late at night through the dark street and do not abuse alcohol partying in local bars and clubs.

DOS. Do contemplate the performance of Diablos Danzantes. Do celebrate with locals and get acquainted with their unique culture and traditions.

REMEMBER, that every country can be dangerous, we are not protected from some twists and turns of our life. You never know what will happen to you next minute. However, there is no a bad country or a bad city. Every country, every city and every festival is a separate chapter in the book known under the name “Planet Earth”. “Dancing Devils of Corpus Christi” is another chapter in this book and can be another chapter in the story of your adventurous life.

On Thursday, 11th of June 2020, you are welcome to visit the Dancing Devils of Corpus Christi, which is not simply a religious holiday, but an embodiment of strong cultural identity, reverence to ancestors, traditions, and history of Venezuelan people.

Carnival in Rio de Janeiro 2020

Carnaval de Rio Sambadrome

“It’s better to see something once
than to hear about it a thousand times.”
– Asian proverb

Do you feel the vibes of the party? Bodies are intertwining in hot moves of samba, one step forward and two steps back, air is getting heavy, and your hips move in a crazy rhythm, music is getting louder and you unconsciously follow the ritual of immorality, demonstration of joy and freedom. Yes, this is Rio de Janeiro Carnival!

RIO CARNIVAL FROM THEN TO NOW

Like any other holiday, this carnival didn’t appear from anything, it has its far-reaching history which started hundreds of years ago. The carnival can trace its roots back to an ancient Greek festival held each spring to honor Dionysus, the god of wine. The first Rio festival dates back to 1723. The first samba school, Mangueira, appeared in 1928. Since then, many teams followed the footsteps of Mangueira and formed samba schools to take part in the Carnival.

Since then Rio Carnival is known as a series of exuberant events, raising the roof parades and parties. This celebration is one of the most important events in the Brazilian culture, where everyone wants to experience festivity and merrymaking of this carnival.

The 2020 Rio Carnival is set to take place from 21st  to the 26th of February. It officially starts on Friday and finishes on Fat Tuesday with the beginning of Lent on Ash Wednesday. However, preparations for the Rio Carnival go on for months before the event, and if you’re lucky enough to be at the upcoming Rio Carnival, you can expect spectacular parades put on by the city’s samba schools, along with live Brazilian music and street parties.


RIO CARNIVAL

CHOCK-A-BLOCK OF PARADES, STREET PARTIES, AND BALLS

The moment you arrive in Rio, you’re completely immersed in the parties and celebration, no matter where you are. But some of the biggest and the best parties are held in the Sambódromo. Every single day you’ll find a parade taking place at the Sambadrome, with various samba schools taking part in the parades. The parades, which are also a competition between all the different schools, begin each night at 9 pm and last until the morning. They bring the special feeling of infinite convivial celebration.

RIO CARNIVAL

Moreover, during Carnival, bars, and restaurants on every street turn into a party (the street parties are called “blocos”). Whether it is at a bar or a beach, people gather, clad in flamboyant costumes to celebrate, to dance their booty off and party till they drop like a rockstar.

One of the best places to go to listen to street bands during the Rio de Janeiro Carnival is Avenida Rio Branco in Centro, the city’s downtown area. Late afternoon is the finest time to go out as this is when you’ll see processions of street bands making their way along the street playing to thousands of dancing, drinking revelers.

If partying on the street isn’t really your thing, the lavish Carnival balls may be more of your style. Most cost between R$120 and R$170 (between $38 and $54 USD in 2017 values) to attend. Although some of the celebrations are more expensive, such as the well-known annual Magic Ball at the Copacabana Palace Hotel which regularly attracts a great number of VIPs. Other popular balls include the Red and Black Ball, the Ball of the Beer and the Gay Costume Ball. If you’re looking for something a bit more affordable, check out the celebrations held at the Rio Scala nightclub on Avenida Afrânio. For many years, the ball here is an excellent fusion of live Brazilian music and samba.

RIO CARNIVAL

WHY RIO CARNIVAL?

From the first moment you are at the celebration, you will realize that Rio de Janeiro’s Carnival is undoubtedly the planet’s most ostentatious, extravagant, grandiose, mind-blowing spectacle, uniting millions of Brazilians and visitors. The “Carnaval do Rio de Janeiro” is not only the biggest Carnival but also a benchmark against which every other carnival is compared and one of the most captivating artistic events on the globe. Rio de Janeiro Carnival is all over the places; in the squares and streets, clubs, bars, and all other venues taking over the whole city of Rio and culminating in the Rio Samba Parade that impresses everyone without exception.

If you feel like dancing, singing, falling in love head over heels,
If you are ready to forget about all the rules and everything that chains you,
if you want to immerse in the ambiance of samba and joy…
Then, Rio Carnival is a must-go for you!

Get your dose of emotions and escape from routine, let the groove get in and feel the crowd’s ecstasy kick in!

 

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