Uruguay Carnival – Daytours4u http://www.daytours4u.com/en Tours, activities and travel tips in South America Tue, 16 Jan 2018 15:45:50 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.8 96832869 Las Llamadas Bring Uruguay Carnival to Life http://www.daytours4u.com/en/uruguay4u/las-llamadas-bring-uruguay-carnival-to-life/ Wed, 03 Feb 2016 08:00:24 +0000 http://daytours4u.com/en/?p=9050 It's party time on the streets of Montevideo as Uruguay honours its African roots with the breathtaking Las Llamadas Parades. Learn all about them here.

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With carnival celebrations in full swing across Montevideo, Uruguay’s African community is once again stepping out of the shadows and into the country’s spotlight. Crowds of singers, drummers, dancers, and revelers are, through a host of exorbitant celebrations, paying homage to an expressive culture brought to these shores by thousands of African slaves in the 18th century.

Uruguay CarnivalLas Llamadas bring joy and excitement to the streets of Montevideo / Image Source

As per tradition, the festivities began in late January with the Desfile Inaugural (Inaugural Carnival Parade) down 18 de Julio Avenue, but this was simply a precursor to the main event which kicks off tomorrow. Every year, on the first Thursday and Friday of February, musicians fill the air with African rhythms and costumed performers gyrate through Montevideo’s poorest neighbourhoods, launching a street fiesta known as ‘El Desfile de Llamadas’ (The Parade of Llamadas).

The term Llamadas – Spanish for “Calls” – refers to a time when former slaves would use drums to invite their neighbours for a gathering, whereupon they would practice religious rituals together and discuss the collective conditions under which they were living. In times of celebration, the same marginalised African societies would command the streets outside their homes and party to the sound of candombe, drawing interest from people of all ethnicities. This was the birth of Uruguay Carnival.

In the years following the emancipation of slavery, the white European immigrant population helped to keep these customs alive. Over time, both the Llamadas and candombe music have become an important part of Uruguay’s cultural identity – the country has gone from suppressing its African roots to openly embracing them.

The comparsas adorn costumes bedecked in stars and moons / Image Source

Today, Afro-Uruguayans and the white working classes parade together in groups known as comparsas, drumming and dancing in exuberant apparel as they compete to win the hearts of the crowd. Each comparsa is fronted by decorative banners showing trademark logos and slogans, while young masked performers wave an array of flags bedecked in moons, stars, and lights. These symbols hold references to Islam, the faith observed by the African slaves.  

This is still very much a domestic party – not yet recognised on the international stage. Uruguay Carnival remains a strong advert for diversity, and its increasing popularity reveals that the local population wants to preserve the African influence in the region. In 2016, on the eve of the Llamadas Parades, it appears that the terms African and Uruguayan are intrinsically linked.

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If you are visiting South America for carnival this summer, we can help you enrich your travel experiences. Check out our tours and activities in Rio de Janeiro, São PauloChile, Colombia, Uruguay, Buenos Aires, and across Argentina.

By Simon Hall

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Uruguay Carnival Celebrations Deeply Influenced by African Traditions http://www.daytours4u.com/en/uruguay4u/uruguay-carnival-celebrations-african-traditions/ Wed, 06 Jan 2016 08:00:31 +0000 http://daytours4u.com/en/?p=8856 Carnival celebrations in South America are traditionally associated with Rio de Janeiro, Carnaval Porteño in Buenos Aires, and Carnaval de Barranquilla in Colombia. The festivities at this time of year in the continent’s smallest country, Uruguay, may be less renowned, yet they remain equally vibrant, colourful, and dazzlingly expressive. While Uruguay Carnival is indeed a [...]

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Carnival celebrations in South America are traditionally associated with Rio de Janeiro, Carnaval Porteño in Buenos Aires, and Carnaval de Barranquilla in Colombia. The festivities at this time of year in the continent’s smallest country, Uruguay, may be less renowned, yet they remain equally vibrant, colourful, and dazzlingly expressive. While Uruguay Carnival is indeed a countrywide affair, the main revelry takes place in the capital: Montevideo. Thousands get into costume and grace the streets, local and international dancers gyrate in sequined attire, bonfires glimmer in the night air, and drums beat out the thunderous African rhythm known as “candombe” – this annual party brings unrelenting joy to the city.

Uruguay Carnival is a vibrant and expressive affair / Image Source

The history of Uruguay Carnival is rooted in the country’s African culture that first emerged in the mid-1700’s when Montevideo was a major trade port for ships bringing African slaves to the Rio de la Plata region. Despite coming from the same lands, the slaves belonged to myriad ethnic groups and together lacked a common identity. They yearned for their musical heritage, religious practices, old habits, and faraway homelands. Before Uruguay abolished slavery, these men and women would congregate in houses located in poor neighbourhoods and reminisce about their origins through song and dance. Certain masters would also allow their workers to hold extravagant parties in which they could celebrate their African ancestry.

The festivities grew in popularity and once the slaves’ freedom was granted, the African communities began throwing ever more spectacular events in impoverished districts, most prominently Sur and Palermo. The unique candombe sounds – acknowledged by UNESCO as a World Cultural Heritage of humanity – were used to gather people together, giving birth to Las Llamadas (The Calls) which are an important aspect of Carnival today.

Contemporary glitz and glamour in Montevideo to celebrate together the diversity / Image Source

The modern phenomenon of Uruguay Carnival began back in 1956, and it has, ever since, become a highlight on the Uruguayan cultural calendar. In more recent times, Uruguay Carnival has been garnering attention on the international stage thanks largely to the distinct style of candombe. This recognition has given fresh momentum to the country’s burgeoning black cultural movement and it has also raised awareness about the history of Afro-Uruguayans: present-day Carnival in Uruguay is helping to build bridges.

Much of the contemporary glitz and glamour on display pays homage to the African slave communities of a bygone era – the outfits, makeup and music provide subtle references to stories of repression; white men decorate themselves with black face paint; and white women don traditional African apparel. The ethnic and social classes unite to light up cosmopolitan Montevideo for 40 simply spectacular days and nights.

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If you are visiting South America for carnival this summer, we can help you enrich your travel experiences. Check out our tours and activities in Rio de Janeiro, São PauloChile, Colombia, Uruguay, Buenos Aires, and across Argentina.

By Simon Hall

The post Uruguay Carnival Celebrations Deeply Influenced by African Traditions appeared first on Daytours4u.

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