Brazil's Health Ministry is getting into Carnival fever along with millions of revelers.
While most Brazilians are preparing for four days of madness, which include a street parade with colorful floats and dressed-up divas gyrating to blaring music, the government is planning to hand out 25 million condoms to encourage partyers to never go unprotected.
Carnival takes place during the days preceding Ash Wednesday, the first of 40 meatless fasting days before Easter. This year's blowout party begins on Feb. 25 and will continue through Mardi Gras' Fat Tuesday on Feb. 28. Carnival derives from "carne vale," meaning "goodbye to meat."
But before Lent -- the period between Ash Wednesday and Easter -- most people say hello to fun, food, and inevitably lots of skin. And as millions of tourists descend on various cities in the South American country, the government is campaigning to get people to use contraceptives during Carnival. Along with the massive condom handouts at health clinics, public squares and masquerade balls, Brazil has launched an ad campaign called "Dress Yourself."
As in, don't hesitate to parade around in your bikini or trunks, but a condom should always be part of the equation.
"It's that time of year when we boost distribution because of the increase in demand," an official from the Health Ministry's anti-AIDS program told Reuters.
The initiative is not new. Brazil's Health Ministry has handed out condoms for the last five years during the carnal samba extravaganza.
The Vatican frowns upon such practices, especially in the dominant Catholic country. Condom promotion, it believes, may cause more AIDS by encouraging people to be more promiscuous.
Pope Benedict's first article, in fact, lambasted sexless love. The pontiff wrote that love had reduced sexual attraction to a form of "intoxication" that transformed sex into a "debasement of the human body."
Love or not, countless partyers will inevitably imbibe too much and get punch-drunk on loud music, sweat-inducing dancing, and dazzling costumes.