By Nicole Pilsbury
For The Diamondback

Students immersed themselves in the cultural celebrations of Carnaval on Tuesday, complete with food, music and dancing.

The Carnaval celebration — hosted by the arts and humanities college in St. Mary’s Hall — introduced students to traditions from countries across the world, including Brazil, Colombia and Francophone countries. Carnaval is celebrated before the Christian period of Lent and originated as a way to welcome spring, according to Smithsonian Magazine.

Colorful streamers, beads and masquerade masks decorated the room. A license plate from Colombia and paper masks were on display.

Cécile Accilien, a French and Francophone studies professor, presented to attendees about how French colonizers brought Carnaval to regions such as Haiti, Guadeloupe and Martinique.

Accilien emphasized the importance of different identities within Carnaval.

[UMD students celebrate Lunar New Year with family gatherings, traditions]

“People do not often talk about the complexity of Carnaval,” Accilien said. “When [people] think of Carnaval, they think probably Brazil, and New Orleans, and they don’t realize that Carnaval is all around the world. Each region, each country, has its own particularity.”

Barbara Zocal Da Silva, a professor in the languages, literatures and cultures school, hosted a presentation about Carnaval in Brazil.

Students from Zocal Da Silva’s class presented on different aspects of Carnaval in Brazil, such as festivities in specific cities, music groups and types of dances. Between each presentation, Zocal Da Silva engaged students in dancing or throwing paper ribbons.

“I had fun throughout the whole preparation for this event,” Zocal Da Silva said. She enjoyed teaching her students about the cultural side of Brazil that is important to her, she said.

Tatiana Chi-Miranda, a graduate assistant at the languages, literature and cultures school, talked to attendees about what Carnaval is like in her hometown, Barranquilla, Colombia.

[UMD community members gather for 10-foot menorah lighting to celebrate Hanukkah]

Students participated in arts and crafts activities, enjoyed traditional Carnaval food and learned about salsa and performance. Food included coxinha, pastels and other desserts. Zocal Da Silva also led a samba workshop where students practiced their dancing skills.

Carnaval reminded some students of their family backgrounds.

“My favorite part was reliving Carnaval,” Juliana Brannan, a senior journalism major, said. “My mom is from Brazil, so I’ve grown up with this culture and heritage all my life.”

Lauren Hargrave, the marketing communications coordinator for the languages, literature and cultures school, emphasized the event’s importance in allowing students to learn about different cultures.

“It’s just really important to bring different cultures here at UMD to increase diversity and increase people’s understanding as well,” Hargrave said.