King Momus has lost weight: curiosities about Brazilian Carnival

Being a movable date, the Brazilian Carnival can occur either in February or in March – it all depends on the date established by the Roman Catholic Church for the commemoration of Easter, and the resulting establishment of the date of Ash Wednesday.

Carnival Tuesday, which is the high point of the festivities and revelling, takes place the previous day and, based on this, all the festivities are organised accordingly, both in Brazil and abroad.

We now present some other interesting facts about the Brazilian Carnival, a big party that takes millions to the streets every year.


King Momus is losing weight

With the start of Carnival, in many cities and towns it is common for the keys to the city to be handed over by the Mayor to King Momus, an allegoric figure who shall technically “govern” the location during the festivities, beside his Queen of Carnival and two princesses.

This tradition comes from Ancient Rome, when a handsome soldier (later, the fattest man in town) was chosen to represent Momus, God of Laughter, and to be the host of the festivities during the Carnival period.

However, the former King Momus, still somewhat overweight to symbolise the plenty required by this date – there was a requirement to weigh at least 120 kilos to even run for the office – is now being gradually replaced by slimmer models, as part of campaigns against obesity.


Rio de Janeiro is in the Book of Records

Since 2004, the Rio de Janeiro Carnival has been in the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest street carnival in the world. During the days of festivities, there are 2 million people on average each day, on the streets of Rio de Janeiro.

In 2014 alone, the 5 million revellers who spent Carnival in Rio injected BRL 2 billion (USD 500 million) into the local economy.


The Carnival of Recife is also in the Guinness Book of World Records

Even though the Carnival in Rio de Janeiro is the most famous on an international scale, the title of the largest Carnival group in the world is in the hands of the Pernambucan group Galo de Madrugada, or Rooster of the Dawn.

In 2016, there were over 2.5 million happy souls dancing the local music beat, the frevo, and being part of this Recife carnival group which includes floats, freviocas and over 20 large musical trucks (trios elétricos).


The trio elétrico used to be something very different

In 1950, singers Dodô and Osmar adapted an open jalopy and took to the streets, playing songs while the car was driven by a driver.

Hence the term trio elétrico (literally, an electric trio) which plays that very same role, that of taking the musicians out to the city streets during Carnival.

The first ever such jalopy, known as Fobica, can be seen at the Music House, in the city of Salvador, State of Bahia.