Lesson 308 – Pernambuco: Brazil’s Other Carnival

The Brazilian state of Pernambuco, about the size of Maine, is home to the megapolis of Recife, Brazil’s fifth largest city and home to more than 5 million Pernambucans. Recife’s carnival, along with celebrations in its colonial suburb Olinda and the in the cities of Bezerros and Nazarene da Mata, though not as internationally famous as those of Rio de Janeiro and Salvador, are part of a flamboyant joyous, boisterous week of immense parades, intense dances, and elaborate costumes, and invitations are not required. You can jump in at any time.

Learning Objective

Students will learn about the Brazilian state of Pernambuco and its inclusive carnival’s flamboyant joyous week of celebration.

Social Studies Standards

Culture A, D, E

Discussion Prompts

  • Discuss the participation of the women in this celebration, including the origin of the “papangu” costume origin and the only women maracatu group to the explanation? Explain why this is important.
  • How were the colonizers’ culture celebrated in the Pernambuco’s carnival? Which culture seems to be more prevalent in the celebration? Justify your response.
  • Discuss some of the symbolism of the carnival, including the cultural influences. Compare carnival with a local celebration that has symbolic, cultural influences and embraced by most locals.
  • In the video, Petit Virgens, journalist and historian, says that carnival is a democratic celebration and that it does not cost anything to be part of it. Do you agree with his view? What did you see on the video that contradicts or confirms your opinion?

Lesson Activities

  • Imagine you are going to be part of the carnival in Pernambuco. Create a mask or costume reflecting your culture to introduce to the carnival in Bezerros. Include at least one of the local traditions in your design.
  • Choose at least one color, a symbol and an image that in your opinion represents or capture the essence of the carnival. Put the three items together to create a new image and add details. Write a simple explanation justifying your choices.
  • Write a headline and a blurb for a social platform that captures the most important aspect of this celebration. How might this headline change when written from an opposite viewpoint?
  • How might the beauty of the costumes and the celebration conceal and/or reveal the historical truth of the celebration? Write an essay using facts from the video, including your opinion and explanation about the best and worse costumes.


  • boisterous
  • colonization
  • democratic carnival
  • explosion of joy
  • frevo
  • flamboyant
  • intergenerational
  • joyous
  • lyrical
  • maracatu


Lesson Plan S03E08