National Hispanic American Heritage Month 2002
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National Hispanic American Heritage Month 2002

Carnival — There are several versions on the origin of the word "Carnival". In the Milanise dialect, Carnevale means "the time when the use of meat is taken away", since Carnival is precisely the night before Ash Wednesday. In Brazil, the event is the greatest popular cultural manifestation besides soccer. It is a mixture of fun, party and theater which involves art and folklore. In its origin, it basically comes up as a street party. However, in most capitals, it ends up restricted to closed spaces, such as clubs and "sambódromos".

The National Dance: Samba — Everybody is looking forward to Carnival. During that time of the year, life is a big party. The streets come alive with vibrant colors, singing and dancing. There is no barrier between the rich and the poor during carnival. Everyone is caught up in the excitement and rhythm of the celebration. Many people dress up in costumes. There is lively competition between Samba schools during carnival as the winning school is the pride of the country.

A country so rich in culture, Samba is the best of these Brazilian cultures. Samba is part of every Brazilian's DNA. In any city of any state in the country, Samba is present. In every house, at every social event.

Through the Samba, anyone can get to know a little bit of the Brazilian story, as Samba is the most faithful portrait of Brazil and its people. Samba is more than just a form of musical expression or rhythm; Samba is a way of life.

The word Samba comes from the word semba, found in many of the Bantu languages of West Africa. For the African slaves who were brought to Brazil, the word semba had a variety of meanings such as prayer, or to invoke the spirit of their ancestors or gods of their religions. As an adjective, it could mean regret, sadness, something like the southern blues of the USA.

In Brazil, Samba is a woman with the function of an ekedi nagô in the Bantu temples: the blessed dancer, iaô, the daughter of a saint. African slaves used Samba to refer to the religious ceremony characterized by the rhythm and choreography of the Bantuque. Even today, the Jongo, a variation of Samba, is considered a religious dance.

The first time the word Samba appeared written in the Portuguese language meaning a rhythm and a dance was in 1838 in the newspaper O Carpuceiro, in an article written by the priest Lopes Gama.

It is said that Samba originated in Bahia and later been brought to Rio de Janeiro by slaves; abandoned by their masters. Nevertheless, Rio became the capital of Samba.

The first official recording of a Samba was in 1917 by Ernesto dos Santos "Donga" and his song by Telephone. Through organizations called Samba Schools, the rhythm came into existence for all Brazilians, mulattos, African Brazilians, whites, mestizos and immigrants.

One of Samba's pioneers, Angenor de Oliveira said: when I was jung, we played Samba in the yards and the police frequently appeared to interrupt, because in these days Samba was associated with vagabond and bandits. Even today, the so called Brazilian elite puts down this culture; most probably because it is not a culture brought by the magnificent European colonists, not understanding the economic benefit and value it brings to Brazil as an export and some of the best PR. Ask anyone in the world about Blues, and they will tell you USA. Source

Cuisine — Given the vast coast of Chile, it's a small wonder that the national cuisine is heavily based on the fruits of the sea. Almost everywhere, excluding towns deep inland, you can find fresh seafood. The predominant dishes often come with rice and feature clams, mussels, sea urchins, Chilean sea bass and abalone. Meat dishes tend to be Spanish-based with local modifications. Empanadas (cheese, meat, or seafood turnovers) are common, along with humitas -grated fresh corn pudding with basil. Perhaps the most loved dish is Pastel de Choclo, a beef and chicken pie topped with a sweet corn mixture and baked in an individual clay pot. Other national dishes include porotos (semi-ripe beans cooked with green beans), corn, squash and basil—and—cazuela—a Chilean stew made with chicken or beef.

Santiago is very much a bar and pub city, though there are several discos. Santiagans enjoy heading out to their favorite haunt, perhaps to listen to some live guitar or jazz. Going to the theater is also big in Santiago, though if you don't speak Spanish the experience will obviously be diminished. Source

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