Fat Tuesday. Shrove Tuesday. Carnivale. Mardi Gras. Pancake Day.

Fat Tuesday. Shrove Tuesday. Carnivale. Mardi Gras. Pancake Day.

By: Heather Easterday

Madi Gras

The day goes by many names relative to the culture or country it is celebrated within, but they all refer to the day before Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. Lent is the 40 days of fasting practiced by Christians, Catholics, and Orthodox Christians, leading up to Easter Sunday. Generally speaking, the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday is a day for people to have a last taste of decadent foods, alcohol, and imbibe in extravagant parties and celebrations. Fasting for 40 days can mean different things to each person, but the day before is recognized as a feast day and celebrated with parties, parades, masks, dancing, and of course, all the food and drink 

In the UK, the day is referred to as Shrove Tuesday or Pancake Tuesday.  The day is traditionally meant for Anglo Saxon Christians to Confess their sins, or to be “shriven” of their sins. The day is also used as the last day to use up the items that are forbidden during Lent. Eggs and Fats are primarily on the fast list, and pancakes were the perfect way to use up those ingredients. 

Traditionally, Catholics will fast from meat on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, and all the Fridays of Lent. This tradition is because meat was expensive, and considered a luxury. Fish is allowed on Fridays during Lent and often where “Fish Fridays” originated from. 

Orthodox Christians will fast from meat, meat by-product, poultry, eggs, and dairy for all 40 days. Many people will choose an additional item they truly enjoy eating or drinking for lent. Chocolate, sugar, and alcohol and common items for people to abstain from during Lenten season. Crustaceans are not considered meat or fish, so often, those who abstain from meat and fish will incorporate shrimp, lobster, or crab into their regular diets until Easter. Have you ever noticed major seafood restaurant chains will often run Seafood “fests” or deals right after Fat Tuesday leading up to Easter? Now you know why! 

Modern Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday, and Carnivale are evolutions of their religious origins, and are welcoming of all who enjoy the feast and parties, regardless of faith or religion. 

Fat Tuesday (Mardi Gras, Carnivale, Shrove Tuesday) is celebrated in incredibly diverse traditions around the world. France celebrates Mardi Gras as does New Orleans, which was heavily settled and culturally influenced by the French, among many others! Mardi Gras uses gold, green and purple color scheme in parades, and other party favors. Mardi Gras Indian tribes, King Cakes, alcohol, music, throwing beads from floats and balconies into the crowd,  and parades are traditional staples of New Orleans festivities, and are often heavily influenced by the cultures that settled and shaped the City of New Orleans. Mardi Gras parades often begin as early as January 6th for the Mardi Gras Season. Each parade is sponsored by a special interest group, or a Krewe. Find more info about New Orleans Mardi Gras!

Madi Gras


In Italy, Carnevale is marked by parades and parties, and the party goers are dressed in Rococco high fashion gowns and suits. The one unique aspect of Italian Carnevale is masks. The bauta mask is the most traditional mask as it covers the facial features and has a bit of fabric attached to drape the neck, concealing identity and social class. Concealment of identity and social class was important to Italians who wanted to fully immerse themselves in the Bacchus style celebrations the holiday was inspired by. Venetian Canevale masquerade balls date all the way back to 1296. Masks were the social equalizer in the 16-1700s. Even Plague Dr masks were reborn into Carnivale costume fashion, and served as a reminder to go back to better behavior after the celebrations were over. Napoleon banned Carnevale and masking due to the debauchery they allowed, as well as the security risks they posed. Venice brought back the Carnevale celebrations in the 1970s to reinvigorate the Venetian traditions and culture. 

Madi Gras

In Brazil, Carnavale begins on the Friday before Ash Wednesday. Large parades can be found in each major city in Brazil. Local culture and tradition heavily influence each celebration and creates diversity in celebrating between each town. Parades are led by local Samba schools, with energetic dancers featuring large headdresses and costumes, decorated with feathers, beads and rhinestones. Large Floats, called Trios Electricos, fitted with electricity powering large sound systems and a stage on top for performances or musicians, and beautifully themed displays. Smaller block parties can be found around the major parades for local participation. Similar festivities can be found in the Carribean, Mexico, and other South American countries. 

Madi Gras

How will you celebrate Mardi Gras?

Books you may be interested in:

New Orleans Carnival Krewes: The History, Spirit & Secrets of Mardi Gras

New Orleans Carnival Balls: The Secret Side of Mardi Gras, 1870-1920

Mardi Gras Indians (Louisiana True)

Carnevale Italiano – Italian Carnival: An Introduction to One of Italy’s Most Joyful Celebrations (Italian Edition)

As mais Bizarras Leis sobre idiomas do mundo

Com o Dia Internacional da Língua Materna de 2016 às portas (21 de fevereiro, Domingo), a The Translation Company fez uma pesquisa por todo o mundo para descobrir as mais estranhas leis sobre idiomas já criadas. Com o debate acerca da livre expressão cada vez mais acirrado, nunca foi tão oportuno examinar a forma como os governos, no passado e no presente, tentaram privilegiar um idioma em detrimento de outro, chegando em casos extremos a tentar banir idiomas completamente.

As leis de idioma mais estranhas do mundo


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Contemporary History of Brazil

What is Considered Contemporary?

Contemporary history in Brazil is considered to be from 1985 until present day. This is because of the end of the military rule that had controlled the country from 1964 until 1985 and the return of civilian government. In January 1985, the shift towards democracy reached its climax when Tancredo Neves of the PMDB party (the party that had always opposed the military regime) was elected.

He was the first civilian president since 1964. Neves’ election victory over general Figueiredo, (the last of the Presidents picked by the military) was considered the start of a New Republic (Nova República).  This term is the opposite of the term República Velha (or Old Republic). Lasting from 1880 until 1930, República Velha was the name of the first period of the Brazilian Republic.

The First Phase of Democracy

President Tancredo Neves could not attend his inauguration in 1985 because he fell ill the night before.  His running mate, José Sarney, was inaugurated as vice president and served in Tancredo’s position as acting president until Tancredo died. Tancredo was never able to take the oath of office. Due to the unusual events of this situation, the first phase of the Brazilian New Republic was from the inauguration of José Sarney in 1985 until the inauguration of Fernando Collor in 1990. It can still be considered a transitional period because, while the 1967-1969 constitution still remained in force, the executive still had great powers. The president was also able to legislate with decree-laws.

A New Constitution

In 1986, the government ruled by Sarney fulfilled Tancredo’s promise of passing in Congress a Constitutional Amendment to the Constitution received from the military period. This started elections for a National Constituent Assembly to plan and adopt a new Constitution for Brazil. The Constituent Assembly began deliberations in February 1987 and concluded its work on 5 October 1988.

In 1988, Brazil completed the process of the restoration of democracy by adopting its current Constitution. The new Constitution replaced the dictatorial legislation that was still in place from the when the military was in control.


In 1989, elections for president by direct popular ballot under the new constitution were held. This was the first time this happened since military rule began in 1964. Fernando Collor was inaugurated on 15 March 1990. The last step in the long process of democratization took place with the inauguration of Collor (the first president elected under the 1988 constitution).

Since that time, there have been five presidential terms. This has occurred without any damage to the constitutional order. Collor was impeached on charges of corruption in 1992 and resigned the presidency. Franco, his vice president, succeeded him. The second and third terms corresponded to the Fernando Henrique Cardoso Administration. In the fourth and fifth presidential terms, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva served as President. In 2011, the sixth presidential term following the completion of the transition to democracy started with Dilma Rousseff (who still serves as President of Brazil).

Universities in Portugal

Universities in Portugal


In 1290, the very first university founded in Portugal was in Lisbon by King Dinis, which he called Studium Generale. During the first 247 years of its operation, it moved several times between Lisbon and Coimbra.  Eventually, it settled in Coimbra and remained there as The University of Coimbra.  The University of Coimbra is one of the oldest universities not only in Portugal, but in the rest of the world, as well.  It now boasts one of the largest higher education and research institutions in the world.  The university is divided up into eight different faculties.  There were times throughout Portuguese history when it was the only University in Portugal at all.


Student Ribbons


Students wear a colored ribbon that identifies which faculty they are studying in.  For example, the faculty of law is represented by a red ribbon.  The faculty of medicine is represented by a yellow ribbon.  This ancient university has maintained customs among its students for centuries.  Among those customs is the Coimbra Fado, the ribbon burning ceremony upon graduation and, of course, graduation ceremonies.  These customs are called Praxe.  It is one of the things that sets the University of Coimbra apart from any other University in the world.  Students are proud to participate in Praxe.  Praxe is nearly as much of an attraction to the University of Coimbra as their excellent academic reputation.


Facilities and Research


In 1911, Lisbon became a University City again with the establishment of the current University of Lisbon. The University of Lisbon is a state-run facility featuring several faculties.  Law, Medicine, and Sciences are taught there, among others, and research is conducted at Lisbon as well.  Instituto de Medicina Molecular of the University of Lisbon is an accomplished research facility in the field of molecular medicine.  It is one of the most noted research institutes in all of Portugal.


On January 9, 1976, the University of Azores was established.  It is a state-run institution and the only University in the archipelago of Azores.  The University has three campuses, in Ponta Delgada (So Miguel), Angra do Heroísmo (Terceira), and Horta (Faial). The main campus, Ponta Delgada, offers a concentration of different disciplines.  The other two campuses offer specified training in agrarian sciences and oceanography.


Most Populated University


The University of Porto has the largest number of students in Portugal.  It was founded in 1911 and considered one of the top 100 Universities in Europe in 2010.  It is most noted for its large volume of research output.  The faculties of this school are divided up into groups of three main Poles. Pole 1 is a building located in the center of the city.  Pole 2 is located in the Northern area of the city, and Pole 3 is West, not far from Pole 1.

Music in Portugal

Music in Portugal


The history of Portuguese music began with strong influence from Ancient Rome’s musical tradition.  It was also influenced by the European traditions.  Classical music in Portugal was strongly defined by composers such as Pedro de Escobar, Duarte Lobo, Carlos Seixas, and many more.  During this period, organist music was extremely popular and notable composers include Antonio Carreira and Manuel Rodrigues Coelho.  Singers of the time include Luisa Todi, Elisabete Matos and Jose Carlos Xavier.  There were several famous pianists as well.  Maria Joao Pires and Sequeira Costa are among them.  Guilhermina Suggia was a famous cello player of classical music as well.  This list includes past and present influences on modern Portuguese classical music.


Fado Style


Portuguese folk music is perhaps best known for Fado.  Fado originated in Lisbon as the music of the urban poor.  The music style is defined by harsh lyrics and sad feelings by the singer.  The singer tells a story about being resigned to poverty and loneliness while remaining dignified.  One famous Fado singer in Portugal today is Mariza. This style of music is often sung along with a Portuguese guitar.


Student Fado, performed by students at Coimbra University, has maintained its tradition since Augusto Hilário pioneered it in the 1890s. Fado became an internationally popular genre in 1939.  This was largely due to the career of Amalia Rodrigues.  She was a singer and a film actress.  She made stylistic innovations to the music of Fado.  She was possibly the most influential Fadista of all time.


Modern Fado continues the tradition.  Famous current fado musicians include Mariza, Misia and Camane.  They have introduced the music all over again to the world.  Some of the best new male Fado singers are Ricardo Ribeiro and Miguel Capucho.




The music of Portugal has always played a strong role in expressing the people’s feelings about national politics.  Political musicians were pursued by police and persecuted.  Some were even exiled, such as Zea Afonso, Paulo de Carvalho and others.  In the 1950’s, Jose Afonso began performing.  He was a roots-based musician and led the Portuguese roots revival.


After the Carnation Revolution, music was used to support Left-Wing parties.  Ideas like equality, freedom, and free education were often in lyrics to songs.  Famous poets like Jose Barata-Moura wrote many of the songs.

Tourism in Brazil

Thriving Tourism in Brazil


The tourism industry in Brazil is continuously growing. It is an important part of the economy for many areas throughout the country. In 2009, Brazil had 4.8 million visitors. It is considered to be the top destination for tourists in South America and the second most popular in Latin America (following Mexico). In 2009, profits from international tourism hit $5.3 billion. The number of visitors and income fell considerably in comparison to the year before. This was because of the 2008-2009 economic crises that occurred.


In 2005, tourism supplied 3.2% of the country’s revenues from exports of goods and services. It also made up for 7% of direct and indirect employment in the Brazilian economy. In the next year, direct employment in the tourism industry climbed to 1.87 million people. Domestic tourism is also an essential part of the thriving industry. In 2005, about 51 million domestic tourists toured throughout the country. Direct profits from Brazilian tourists hit USD 21.8 billion. This means Brazil had 5.6 times more receipts than international tourists in 2005.


Brazil’s Tourism Options


Brazil has many options for domestic and international tourists. Ecotourism, leisure, recreation, adventure, beach, historic, and cultural are among the most common forms of tourism in this country. Because of this, natural areas account for the most of the tourism product. The Amazon Rainforest, beaches, and dunes in the Northeast Region, the Pantanal in the Center-West Region, and the beaches at Rio de Janeiro and Santa Catarina are some of the most common tourist destinations in Brazil.  Cultural and historic tourism in Minas Gerais and business trips to So Paulo city are also very common.




The Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index (TTCI) is a report that rates the features of a country that make it appealing to develop business in the travel and tourism industry. This is instead of rating a country’s attractiveness as a tourist destination. In 2008, TTCI rated Brazil as the 49th place in the world’s ranking. This means they were second among Latin American countries and sixth in the Americas. Brazil’s top advantages are displayed more clearly in the sub-index. This measures human, cultural, and natural resources, where Brazil ranks sixth globally, and third in terms of natural resources. The TTCI also mentions Brazil’s major weaknesses. Among these, information and communications technology infrastructure (ranked 58th), ground transport infrastructure (ranked 95th), and safety and security (ranked 128th) are all noted.


In 2005, the most popular destinations for international tourists (in terms of leisure trips) were Rio de Janeiro, Foz do Iguaçu, So Paulo, Florianópolis, and Salvador. The most popular areas for business trips were So Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, and Porto Alegre. Rio de Janeiro and Fortaleza were the most common destinations for domestic tourists in 2006.

European Integration in Portugal

European Integration into Portugal


Prior to 1974, when democracy was introduced to Portugal, the country was controlled by a fascist dictatorship, which kept Portugal from being able to join the rest of Europe.  Also in 1974, the Carnation Revolution opened many new doors for Portugal. In 1981, Portugal signed an agreement that allowed the country to receive the financial aid it needed to modernize the country enough to assimilate into European culture. In 1986, Portugal joined what would later become the European Union. The main goal of the European Union, at the time, was to promote unity between countries in Europe.


Schengen States


Later in 1995, Portugal began to implement the requirements of being a Schengen state. Almost every country within the European Union is a Schengen state. The few that are not have special agreements made with the ones that are. What this means is that citizens of Portugal, and citizens in any of the rest of the Schengen area, are free to go from one country to another without being stopped at the boarder as long as the countries they are moving between are also Schengen members. This also allows Portugal more tourism and more financial stability.


Benefits for Portugal


All of this has benefited Portugal greatly. This has brought the country more foreign trade and more foreign business. With all of the incoming trade also came cultures and social benefits as well. Portugal is now considered one of the mainstream countries in Europe. Many of Portugal’s less appealing aspects have begun to fade into obscurity since the integration began.Portugal has come so far in 2004 that the Prime Minister of Portugal, José Manuel Duro Barroso, was nominated for President of the European Commission. This is a very powerful and very important position. It shows just how much Portugal has actually grown.


Of course the process was not without turbulence. Integrating into Europe brought the people of Portugal fear and losses due to how quickly Portugal was changing. However, over all this has been a positive experience for Portugal bringing them more financial stability and security.


When Portugal suffered from the economic problems of the rest of the world in 2010 the European Financial Stability Facility was called in to help them. This was possible because of the European integration into Portugal, which began in 1974 when Portugal deposed its fascist dictatorship.

The Educational System in Portugal

The Educational System in Portugal


In Portugal, education is structured into four categories: pre-primary education, basic education, secondary education and higher education.


Pre-primary education: is optional for children aged three to five years old. Pre-primary education is offered for free in state-run nursery schools. Citizens must pay tuition for any privately run nursery school. These schools are often called kindergartens in Portuguese.


Basic education: in Portugal is compulsory. This means you must go from the age of 6. State-run schools are free. When the state-run schools run out of room they give refunds on the tuition to private schools. This makes sure everyone gets into school. Books are not given or sold to students. Financial help is given to poor families.


Basic education is split into three cycles. It lasts a total of nine years. The first cycle lasts four years. It includes basic studies such as Portuguese language, math, environment study, and physical and artistic education. The second cycle lasts two years. It expands on the studies from the first cycle. Music, religion, foreign language, history, and civic education are now included. The third cycle lasts three years. Geography, physics, and chemistry are now included as well. Students are also able to choose a second artistic class like dance or theater. In the ninth and last year of the third cycle, students receive information and communication technologies. They also get to choose between visual education, music/theatre or dance, and technological education.


Secondary education is a lot like high school in the United States. After the ninth year of basic education the Portuguese education system goes in two different directions: higher education and vocational education. Secondary education ends with students either moving on to higher education or moving onto the work force.


In Portugal, most universities are private. State-run universities accept admissions on a competitive basis. The best grades usually are the ones that get in. Higher education in Portugal is divided into two different systems: University and polytechnic. Polytechnic education started in the 1980’s. This system provides practical training to get you ready for a specific job. There are also more than fifteen polytechnic universities in Portugal.


University education has a longer history. This system is based on theory and is very research-oriented. There are more than fifteen universities in Portugal offering the University system.

Religion in Brazil

Brazil’s Many Religions


Brazil’s population is much more adherent to religion than most Latin American countries. When the Brazilian Constitution was created, in 1889, Brazil did not have an official religion. It, instead, states in their Constitution that all are given the right to absolute freedom of religion. According to the last census (2000), roughly 73.8% of the population declared themselves Roman Catholic. In spite of this dominant religion, there are numerous other religious denominations in Brazil.


Examples of other denominations include Protestant, Pentecostal, Episcopal, Methodist, Lutheran, and Baptist. There are more than a million and a half Spiritists or Kardescists who follow the doctrines of Allan Kardec. There are also followers of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a small Jewish population, Muslims, Buddhists, and numerous followers of Candomble and Umbanda.


Recently, there has been a large rise of Neo-Pentecostal churches. This increase has brought down the amount of members in the Roman Catholic Church and the Afro-Brazilian religions. In the most recent census, almost ninety percent of Brazilians declared a religious affiliation.




Brazil currently has the greatest amount of Catholics in the world. Since the start of the 16th century, Roman Catholicism has remained Brazil’s major religion. Jesuit missionaries introduced the religion to the indigenous people of Brazil when they began to inhabit the country. In this era, freedom of religion did not exist. All Portuguese settlers and Brazilians were forced to the Roman Catholic faith and had to pay taxes to the church.

Catholicism in Brazil involves many festivities that come from ancient Portuguese traditions. Common traditions involve pilgrimages to the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida (Nossa Senhora Aparecida), the patron saint of Brazil, and religious festivals like the “Círio de Nazaré” in Belém, and the “Festa do Divino” in many cities of Central Brazil. Regions in Brazil that have had a large number of European immigrants have Catholic traditions that are more similar to those practiced in Europe.

The northeast and southern parts of Brazil currently have the largest number of Roman Catholics. The State of Piauí has the greatest amount of Catholics (90.03%) and the State of Rio de Janeiro has the smallest one (56.19%). Among the state capitals, Teresina has the largest proportion of Catholics in the country (86.09%), followed by Aracaju, Fortaleza, Florianópolis, and Joo Pessoa.


Brazil also has numerous branches of Christianity. These include neo-Pentecostalists, old Pentecostalists, and Traditional Protestants mainly from Minas Gerais to the South. The Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil (part of the Anglican Communion) has roughly 120,000 members. The heart of neo-Pentecostalism is Londrina in Paraná state. Main centers also include the cities of So Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, and Belo Horizonte (capital of Minas Gerais). Lutherans are concentrated mostly in the states of Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina and Espírito Santo.

AfroBrazilian Religions

When African slaves were brought into Brazil, they introduced their religious traditions to the country. Many of these practices included summoning the gods with chants or dances. Over time, they began to blend with Catholic and Protestant traditions. This has brought about new religions. These Afro-Brazilian religions were once thought to be Satanic. In spite of this, the government legalized all of the religious practices. This was done to divide state from religion.

Portuguese Colonization

The Beginning of Portuguese Colonization


Some of the earliest colonists recorded in Brazil are Joo Ramalho and Diogo Álvares Correia. At this time, the Portuguese wanted to secure its highly profitable Portuguese Empire in Asia. Because of this, they didn’t do much to protect the newly discovered lands in the Americas from foreign intruders. Because of this, many pirates began dealing in pau brasil (a Brazilian timber tree) with the Amerindians. This situation made Portugal nervous so, in the 1530s, they started to encourage the colonization of Brazil. They did this mainly for defensive reasons. Permanent settlement did not begin until 1532. The towns of Cananéia (1531), So Vicente (1532), Porto Seguro (1534) and Iguape (1538) were established during that period.


In the middle of the 16th century, large amounts of Portuguese colonists were settling mostly along the coastal regions of Brazil. Many cities were also founded at this time. These include including Salvador (1549), So Paulo (1554) and Rio de Janeiro (1565). In spite of the majority of Portuguese that settled willingly, some forced to degredados (convict exile). These criminals were exiled for a wide range of crimes. Some of which included common theft, attempted murder and adultery.


Portuguese Settlers of Jewish Origins


In the 17th century, most of the Portuguese settlers in Brazil moved to the northeastern part of the country. They did this to begin the first sugar plantations. Some of the new settlers were New Christians. New Christians were descendants of Portuguese Jews who had been persuaded to convert to Catholicism and remained in Portugal. Some colonists of Jewish origin were accused of following Judaism and condemned by the Inquisition. This meant they were either expelled from Brazil and arrested or killed in Portugal. Others were able to hide their Jewish origin and lived amongst the Brazilian population.


Between 1579 and 1620, 32% of the owners of cane sugar mills (engenhos) in Pernambuco were of Jewish descent (Brazil relied heavily on sugarcane at this time). The Jewish Portuguese colonists mainly settled in Brazil during the colonial period. The Portuguese typically settled alone, while the Jews were known to bring their entire families to Brazil. It was common for them to mix with Amerindians and Black slaves.


The 16th and 17th Centuries


From 1565 through 1567, a ten year-old French colony called France Antarctique was destroyed by Mem de Sá (a Portuguese colonial official and the third Governor General of Brazil). He then founded the city of Rio de Janeiro on March 1567 with his nephew, Estácio de Sá. Between 1630 and 1654, Holland controlled part of Brazil’s Northeast region. Their capital was in Recife. In 1649, The Portuguese won a large victory against the Netherlands in the Second Battle of Guararapes. In 1654, Holland surrendered and gave back control of Brazilian land to the Portuguese.

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