Carnival in Uruguay should have started a week ago but got cancelled twice.
This inaugural parade should have been held last Thursday but it was suspended due to the heavy rains and strong winds that hit most of Uruguay in the last days.
But after two suspensions due to bad weather, about 3500 people marched through 18 de Julio, the main avenue of Montevideo giving the “kickoff “ to the celebration of Carnival in Uruguay. And more than 7000 people attended this first parade taking place during a perfect night.
The parade was led by the queens of Carnival Samba Schools and just behind them, the groups of comedians, parodies and the traditional groups of black and lubolos joined the parade with singing and dancing.
The streets of the Uruguayan capital were also filled with children wearing various costumes and masks to imitate their carnival idols who at times mingle with them in a dance along the parade.
The organizers of the parade and the jury were as well present observing and giving award points to each group.
The 37 participating groups will be presented twice at the Summer Theater of Parque Rodó in Montevideo, home of the contest, and the best will succeed to a final contest of Carnival and receiving cash prizes.
Carnival in Uruguay – The longest celebration of the world
For those living in this fantastic corner of the world, there is no surprise seeing Carnival celebrations in Uruguay but what calls the attention is that the Carnival in Uruguay lasts for 40 days being the longest Carnival in the world. This is the time it takes to find the best team.
These traditional festivities that trailed back since colonial times have been changing over the years, becoming more well prepared surprising spectators year after year and taking most of the population to the streets.
According to statistics, the carnival participation during these forty days has more attendees than any other sporting and cultural activities together during a year and that includes football which is another great passion of Uruguayans.
All the groups of the parade have an order and a role during Carnival in Uruguay. The sets are divided into different categories that represent different origins, which have their own regulations.
This category originated from colonial times when the slaves enjoyed some special holidays such as January 6, dancing and dressing in the style of their master’s clothes. They gradually created a new society today called “lubolos”. Lubolo means: “white painted black” and appears precisely when the white, attracted by the dance and the sound of the drums, rhythmically move and have expressions of amusement in their faces. Later on they begin to participate by painting their faces with coal and pitch, mimicking the color of the first of slaves brought from Africa and then freedmen, descendants of those, natives of these lands which maintained their ancestral traditions.
Another category is the Murgas, where the joke, mockery particularly to authorities and regulations is the common denominator. The Murgas were influenced by the early 20th Century visit of Spanish operettas that sang with humor. Murgas are satirical with every day topics and certainly a benchmark for the more acidic criticism of the sectors of power.
The moving part of the parade is the “candombe” where thousands of players are playing drums rhythm recalling the blacks simulating the beating of their heart and dancing remembering the lost of the beloved land Africa.
In the region of Maldonado the celebrations will be held in different cities and neighborhoods with parades and stages during the whole month.
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Mary Ann Thompson