This year’s Ash Wednesday, or the beginning of Lent, is February 14th. The day before is thus the last day to enjoy food without fasting, hence “Fat Tuesday” or in French, “Mardi Gras”. Here are a couple of videos to celebrate the event. The first is from “Orfeu Negro” (Black Orpheus), a 1959 movie directed by Marcel Camus set in Rio de Janeiro at Carnaval time. The story is a re-imagining of the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice and this excerpt is a scene where Orfeu meets Eurydice during his samba school’s preparations for the Carnaval festivities. This version is uncaptioned and although there is a bit of dialogue in Brazilian Portuguese, watch this clip for the music, the dancing and the general air of ecstatic celebration.
This second video is from the city of Ponce, Puerto Rico. One feature of the Carnaval in Ponce that defines its character is its representations of vejigantes. These are costumed revelers carrying inflated and colorfully painted cow bladders (vejigas) whose ostensible purpose is to pummel other festival celebrants. The role of vejigante dates back to at least 17th century Spain, but continues to live on in present day Puerto Rico. The music for this video is an example of a distinctly Puerto Rican musical style called bomba. This selection is “Bombero, Eh” by Ballet Folklórico Hermanos Ayala.
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