Monday, February 11, 2013

Freemasonry in the Brazilian Carnaval

The origin of carnival

The celebration probably has its origins in pagan festivals, such as those held in honor of Bacchus, the god of wine, and the Roman Saturnalia and Lupercalia, or those that took place in honor of the bull, Apis in Egypt.

According to some historians, the origins of carnival festivities date back to ancient Sumer and Egypt more than 5,000 years ago, with similar celebrations in the Roman Empire, from whence the custom spread throughout Europe, being brought to America by Spanish and Portuguese navigators who colonized from the fifteenth century on.

Carnival also is said by some to date back to the Celtic pagan festivals, the contemporary festival known as Carnival may have had its origin in the need to eat all meat and animal products such as eggs and butter before beginning the period of Lent to avoid their spoilage. According to Catholic tradition during Lent one should not eat meat, only fish and vegetables.

However, the true origins of Carnival are still unknown. There is no way to verify where and when the carnival was born. Studies estimate that the first service that would later be known as the Carnival was made years before Christ, when farmers gathered in the summer, with masked faces and bodies painted entirely around a bonfire to celebrate fertility, soil productivity and a good harvest and to ward off evil spirits.

The first documentation of a festival with the characteristics of carnival was in Egypt. The party was nothing more than dancing, singing, and the participants wore masks and costumes as a symbol of the absence of social class.

Subsequently, the tradition arrived in Greece. In the sixth century BC, it was the custom of riding a boat with wheels (navalis carrus) where people danced all types of dances.

In Rome, it was dedicated to the Egyptian goddess Isis, and also spreading the cult of the Celts and Germans.

The ceremonies were a common point. They were associated with spiritual phenomena, astronomy and natural cycles, and manifested through expressions such as dance, music, satire, masks, and disorder. In a society with many social differences, the parties satisfied, at least temporarily,  the need for freedom for all.

Rich and poor mingled during carnival unrecognized. Then came the carnival of Venice, and from there it spread everywhere. And it gradually acquired its modern characteristics, with variations depending on the customs of each country. But generally, the carnival is defined by masks, costumes, floats, parades, dances, etc.

The date of Mardi Gras varies from year to year. Many people wonder how you calculate the date of the Carnival?

The start date of Easter (Palm Sunday) is calculated by the lunar month (28 days) and Sunday for the first full moon after the spring equinox (March 21). In other words, Easter can only begin no later than March 22 until April 18. Therefore, it varies from year to year.

So the custom was taken to calculate the dates of Carnival, only counting backwards 40 days from Palm Sunday. This day will be Wednesday, and is the day Lent begins.

The date of Mardi Gras varies from year to year. And the calendar is marked by the Catholic Church, which is calculated by the date of Easter Sunday.

At first the church was against Carnival. They considered it too indulgent of the emotions, pleasures and desires of people. For the church, the carnival represented the disorder, the forbidden. Still, carnival continued, and the church, realizing that it was impossible to stop, just officially adopted the party, in 590 ad, and starting to schedule it into the church calendar.

The first Wednesday after the carnival called "fourth ash", starts the Lenten period in which Christians must refrain from all kinds of pleasures, such as meat, eggs, sex, and fun in general.

Because of this, the carnival is calculated in relation to Easter. Between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday have to pass about 40 days.

Moreover, this date also closely coincides with the holiday of Passover. Held on the first moon (full moon) in the spring and 14 days after the new moon.

The Moon takes over 27 days to translate around us, but in the meantime, the sun also changes its position in the sky each year as it travels across the sky. So, the moon needs 2 more days to reach the sun and it happens in 29 days, 12 hours and 44 minutes and a fraction, to go from one new moon to the next.

Thus, most of the Jewish months alternate between 29 and 30 days, Adar the first 30 days, the second Adar, 29, Nissan, 30, Iyar, 29, Sivan, 30 and so on, and except Cheshvan and Kislev, in the fall, given that correspond to 44 minutes and also other adjustments.

An important adjustment is applied on the day of the New Year, known as Rosh Hashanah ("early this year"), it should never fall on a Sunday, Wednesday or Friday.

This is done to prevent later, Yom Kippur ("Day of Atonement"), which is 10 days later, from falling on the sabbath, because two days off could hamper the proper celebration of both, and also to keep the Sabbath coincides with another holiday there this month. So, oddly enough because of these adjustments, Rosh Hashanah often falls on the new moon.

As you can appreciate, in order to compensate for all of this the holiday is determined to be a moveable feast.

The following is an explanation a bit more complicated for the use of some terms not very common for those who are not Jews, but also helps us understand some of the dates, but this carnival and Easter:

In the Jewish calendar, 2008, for example, (this day) is the 6th of the month of Adary this year is the "first Adar" or "Adar Aleph," because it is a leap year. The months is followed by "Adar Beth" or "Ve-Adar" ("and" "Adar"), the second Adar, an extra month added over time.

Of course, keep in mind that the Jewish calendar follows the moon: "Rosh Chodesh" ("earlier this month"), the first of the month always falls on the New Moon, when the Moon's position in the sky passes by the Sun . Afterwards, we can see a crescent moon shortly after sunset.

Masonry in the Carnaval of 2008


Extracts from the Web Page

"Popular amusements"

The figure illustrated is in oil, representing a regional festival by the artist Chico Laranjeira - Francisco Carlos Laranjeira Coelho. This piece was on the cover of the Masonic journal, "A Trolha," nº 222, of April, 2005. Today it is on display in the anteroom of the Grtand Master General of the Grand Orient of Brazil.

The artist is a member of Masonic Lodge Arautos do Progresso nº 30 de Recife, PE and according to the Masonic magazine, "The Trowel" is also a musician and an interpreter of various pieces performed for lodge ceremonies.

MANAUS - The samba school Reino Unidos da Liberdade presented at the Sambadrome on Saturday, February 2, 2008, the theme "Fair and Perfect, the release of the Black Race in the Amazon.

The theme exalts Freemasonry and the struggle for the liberation of the slaves even before the 'golden law'.

The Amazon was the second Brazilian state to free slaves. They were released on July 10, 1884, while the golden law was not signed by Princess Isabel until May 13, 1888, hence the importance of this theme.

GrÍmio Recreativo Escola de Samba Reino Unido da Liberdade on Saturday 02/02/08, honored Freemasonry in the samba for carnival. The composers were: Mingal, Pierre, and Elvis de Paula e Daniel, and the interpretation was arranged by Wilsinho de Cima.

Fantasy of the 16th Wing - Provincial Deputies
4th sector: Fair & Perfect – Masonic Abolitionism in Amazonas

Fantasy of the 17th Wing - Companies Liberators
4th sector: Fair & Perfect - Masonic Abolitionism in Amazonas

Fantasy of the 18th Ward - The Central Commission for Abolitionism
4th sector: Fair and Perfect - Masonic Abolitionism in Amazonas

Fantasy of the 19th Ward - Masonic Pride
4th sector: Fair and Perfect - Masonic Abolitionism in Amazonas

Fantasy of the 20th Ward - The News - "The Official Abolitionist"
4th sector: Fair and Perfect - Masonic Abolitionism in Amazonas

In Amazonas, Freemasonry played a unique role in the struggle for the liberation of slaves succeeding through their strength and organization, the redemption of Amazonas Province on July 10, 1884, four years before the Golden Law (May 13, 1888 ) be signed by Princess Elizabeth in the city of Rio de Janeiro.

Theodureto Souto, Master Mason, who as president of the province of Amazonas, in just five months (from March 11 to July 12, 1884) along with the two Masonic Lodges Esperança e Porvir, Nº 1 and Amazonas, Nº: 2 that continuing the growing abolitionist movement from the Government of José Paranaguá, encouraged the creation and strengthening of Sociedades Libertadoras and Sociedades Emancipadoras, which resulted in the DECLARATION OF ABSOLUTE EQUALITY, in Manaus, on May 24, 1884 and preceded the STATEMENT OF THE END OF SLAVERY AND EQUAL RIGHTS OF THE POPULATION OF THE AMAZON, less than two months later.

Thus, by noon on July 10, 1884, at the Praça 28 de setembro (today Piazza Heliodoro Balbi) President Theodureto Souto said: "... in honor of the civilization and the homeland, on behalf of the Amazonian people, that the sovereign will of the same people and by virtue of its laws, there are no more slaves in the territory of this province, from north to south and from east to west, thus today and forever abolished slavery and proclaimed the Equal Right of all its inhabitants ".

Manaus is today a strong city for Carnaval.

Muito obrigado a meu caro irmão Daniel Lucio, quem é o único responsável por este material!


Adriana Mendonça said...

Thank you Bro.'. Ballard for this beautiful and useful translation. Masonry in Brazil is opening for universal Masonry and all Brethren are welcome to spread this movement to other countries.
Bris.'. Adriana Mendonça

Ricardo Parente said...

Dear Mr. Baillard,
Congratulations on your excellent blog. I do really like it, mainly because you also post articles about Brasil although I'm not sure if you speak Portuguese or if you are a Brother Mason. I'm from Brasil and live in Florida for 22 years.
I'd like to ask your permission to post some of your articles in our York Rite website, giving you the copyright notice, of course, and linking to your blog.
Please visit our site at
Thanks for your attention.
Ricardo Parente.
PS. Please send your response through our web form on the site.

E C Ballard ஃ said...

Caro Irmão Parente,

Muito obrigado por suas amáveis ​​palavras. Tive o prazer de ser capaz de compartilhar este trabalho do nosso Irmão, Daniel Lúcio. Por favor, sinta-se livre para circular o material que você tenha solicitado.



E C Ballard ஃ said...

Dear Sister Adriana,

As always it is a pleasure to hear from you. Thanks for the kind words, and keep in touch.