Rei Momo or King Momo is the King of the famous Rio Carnival. Every city in Brazil and Colombia has a Rei Momo. Each year, his duties include officially opening the festivities after being awarded the keys to the city by the mayor during the opening ceremony of the Carnival.This emblematic figure of this period of festivities must be jovial, transmit joy and until recently he had to weigh at least 240 lbs. Public health concerns posed by obesity tend to progressively remove this criteria in the selection of Rei Momo.
In other countries such as, King Momo is represented as a huge paper mache character once again jovial, smiling, chubby and with colorful decorations. He also presides over the carnival, parades on a float and is surrounded by a troupe of dancers. The tradition to burn this character at the end of the carnival ended recently for security reasons.
The mythological ancestor of the current Rei Momo was Momos, God of irony in the Greco-Roman pantheon. Momos was kicked out of Olympus for laughing at other gods too much. Upon his arrival on Earth, he therefore founded the famous carnival.
Here is the official opening of Rio’s 2014 Carnival by Rei Momo :
This year, Rio’s Carnival takes place from Friday, February 28th to Tuesday, March 4th, the day of Mardi Gras, and the day before Lent. It is not a coincidence that the term “carnival” is associated with the day before Lent. Indeed, etymologically the word comes from medieval Latin: carne (meat, flesh) and levare (to remove), i.e. abstain from any fat ingredient or meat during the 40 days of Lent.
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