On March 1, 2022, students gathered during lunch to celebrate the Lusófono holiday of Carnaval. It is most popularly celebrated in Lusófono cultures, countries and regions who share Portuguese cultural influence. The event was independently hosted by Lusófono students and included music, food, and activities, such as making bracelets in front of the Sobrato Commons.
Held on the day before Lent, also known as Fat Tuesday, Carnaval is a Lusófono holiday centered around celebration and vibrancy, with the holiday often known for its bright colors and celebratory dancing and music. It encourages celebrators to feast before the traditional fasting period of Lent. Carnaval traditions differ by the various Lusófono cultures and even within each culture. Sarah Mascarenhas (’22) describes how her family celebrates Carnaval, saying “I’ve had friends that celebrated Carnaval with different traditions and foods than what we do at home. Even within Brazil, there are so many different regional dishes, outfits, and music. It’s such a diverse country.”
Amélia Ávila (’24), one of the event organizers, said “Carnaval is one of the biggest celebrations in Lusófono culture, and I wanted to share that celebration with all students at Saint Francis, especially those who have not had exposure to Carnaval or Lusófono culture. I also wanted to have an event where students of Lusófono heritage could celebrate together and connect.”
After weeks of planning, Saint Francis’ first Carnaval celebration took place. Students gathered on the Sobrato Commons porch to enjoy food, dance, and art. Pão de queijo, Brazilian cheese bread, malassadas, Portuguese donuts, brigadeiros, Brazilian chocolate truffles, beijinhos, Brazilian coconut truffles, and massa sovada, Portuguese sweet bread, were some of the different Lusófono foods that were incredibly popular among the attendees. These cultural staples helped introduce many students to new cultural dishes particularly important to regional holidays. It also provided a space for students of Lusófono heritage to come together to celebrate their shared cultural background.
Shreya Dusankar (’24), one of the attendees, stated that she thought “it was exciting to see the various ways in which Fat Tuesday is celebrated by a different culture. The unique foods and decorations reflected this special celebration in a wonderful expression to introduce students to a new culture.”
Carnaval at Saint Francis proved to be a success, with Ávila highlighting that “the response for this event for both students of Lusófono heritage and students for whom this was their first time being exposed to [the Lusófono] culture was really positive.” She stated that the group would consider “making plans to host events for different Lusófono holidays or Carnaval in the future.”