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Holidays in Brazil
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Holidays in Brazil
Holidays in Brazil
Holidays in Brazil
Holidays in Brazil
Holidays in Brazil
Holidays in Brazil
Holidays in Brazil
Holidays in Brazil
Holidays in Brazil
Holidays in Brazil


Brazil public holidays and festivals

Brazil public holidays and festivals
Holidays in Brazil
National holidays

Considered one of the largest popular celebrations on the planet, the Carnival of Brazil is one of the clichés (along with soccer and cafe) through which the world perceives the country. So numerous are the manifestations of the Brazilian carnivals that it surely would not be wise to imagine these events as a uniform phenomenon.

In Rio de Janeiro, the carnival, a true Carioca institution, begins in the streets. The "blocos", groups of people from the same neighborhood or the same school, all dressed in costumes, parade to the sound of "bandas", percussion groups playing frenetic music (the "marchinhas").

But without a doubt, it is the parade of the samba schools that are responsible for the international fame of the Rio carnival. It takes place inside the Sambodromo, a gigantic concrete structure reaching close to a kilometer in length. The Carioca conceived the Sambodromo expressly for this annual celebration. So famous is this building and its celebration that all sorts of anonymous celebrities attend from all over the world.

A synthesis of the Carnival-show styles from all over the country, the Carnival of Rio is a competition showcase for which all the samba schools, city and country wide, train passionately for an entire year.

When the parade starts, the Sambodromo and its concrete expanse transform into a colorful, noisy, shimmering, and undulating mass. In a downpour of decibels, hundreds of competition participants, in gaudy and vibrant costumes, accompany or ride the floats in total frenzy. A very formal jury judges and attribute points to the different competing schools for originality, quality, execution, and presentation of theme, costume, dance, and even the gigantic plaster sculptures. The jury observes every aspect of the celebration to elect the best school of the year.

Next carnival dates: from Feb 20th to 25th, 2009.

In Salvador de Bahia, the carnival has become a prodigious celebration for the masses. Millions of people, forming a crowd incredibly compact, dance to the rhythm of the "trios eletricos", trucks equipped with walls of speakers and on the roof of which a band of musicians play continuously, cruising town for hours.

To follow a trio, one has to buy their right to enter the ropes delimiting the access. A T-shirt is used as a "pass" for the all person "affiliated" to a trio. Some are placed under the banners of national celebrities, such as Ivette Sangalo, Chiclete com banana or Gilberto Gil, Salvador’s Carnival regulars.

Other trios train every year the same "blocos", homogenous group of which one carries the flag just like one would at a football game.

The most famous among them, the one of the "filhos de Gandhi" (Gandhi’s hijos), consists of over 5000 members all dressed identically, with a turban and a white and blue tunic. La Bahia and Salvador seem to have been custom cut for this fest, and when in the whole country official fests lasts for three days, there is a tendency that the Carnival of Salvador lasts a lot longer…? Next carnival dates: from Feb 20th to 25th, 2009.

In Recife & Olinda, the Carnival takes the shape of a public parade where everyone is welcome to participate, and two essential expressions of the pernamboucan culture dominate: the Frevo and the Maracatu.

The Frevo, is a dance and a music particular to the carnival of Recife, with fast and impetuous rhythms. The numerous participants, named Passistas, dressed in their typical costumes and agitating small garish umbrellas in the air, execute an individual choreography, characterized by agile leg movement, which fold and unfold rapidly.

One has to see it in person to understand the ardor and appreciate the audacity of this dance.

The Maracatu comes from African traditions, and is a Brazilian re-inaction, of the crowning of the Black Kings.

Its originality comes from the percussions accompanying the parade and capable, after a few hours, to make the crowd enter into a trance and to follow them…The Carnival of Recife is without a doubt the celebration of everyone, and with its fanfares and their wind instruments able to move crowds, it constitutes the quintessence of customs and local traditions, and their ancestral origins and variety.

Next dates: from Feb 20th to 25th, 2009.

Other places in Brazil The carnival is not celebrated in a big way everywhere, nonetheless it usually is manifested somewhat by some kind of celebration in most villages and towns.

EASTER & HOLY WEEK / march - April

Processions take pace in the whole country, showing the religious fervor of the country home to the largest number of Catholics in the world.

TIRADENTES / April 21st

In 1789, a portion of the population of Minas Gerais, rebelled and demanded independence. The movement is repressed and one of the principal leaders, Tiradentes, is arrested and executed. Martyr of Brazilian patriotism, he is celebrated on April 21st.?The holiday open the "Inconfidência Mineira" week in the State of Minas Gerais. Numerous balls and manifestations are organized during this whole week.

FESTAS JUNINAS / the whole month of June

Peasant holiday associated to the Harvest period, the festas juninas are always very popular in the whole country, and particularly in the Nordeste that has remained more rural.

Balls are organized, where people eat corn and jump over midsummer bonfires.

BUMBA MEU BOI / last 2 weeks of June

This popular holiday occurs in various parts of Brazil, principally in the Nordeste. The dates vary depending on the places.

The most famous Bumba-meu-Boi takes place in São Luis do Maranhão during the Saint-Jean, in a friendly atmosphere. This type of theatrical presentation including dances is one of the most common cultural expression in the country, after the carnival.

The bumba-meu-boi honors an ox and celebrates its death and resurrection. The ox head, displayed during the processions, is made of wood covered with hair. The body is covered with black embroidered velvet, hiding a few people. The group sings and dances through the streets. The public reacts by applauding the ox’s epics. Often, the bumba-meu-boi is used as a pretext to social satire, following the carnival tradition that ignores the established order.

INDEPENDENCE DAY / September 7th

Memorial day of the Declaration of Independence of Brazil in 1822.


Nossa Senhora Aparecida is the Saint protector of Brazil. She is principally honored in Aparecida, a small town near São Paulo where thousands of pilgrims converging from the whole country come to attend the celebration Mass in the monumental cathedral dedicated to the virgin.


The year change is celebrated in all parts of Brazil.

It is also this day that is celebrated (except in a few places) Iemanaja, the sea goddess.

December 31st in Rio Traditionally, Cariocas dressed in white and meet on the Copacabana plaza.

Under the candlelight, some dance while a few meters away, others pray, or throw all kinds of offerings in the ocean (flowers, jewels, perfume…) intended for Iemanja.

At midnight, each secretly makes a wish, and jump successively over 7 waves so that it becomes reality.

The great fireworks offered by the city have become an institution.

Local holidays
  • Marine procession of the 1st of the year / 1st January
BELÉM / CIRIO DE NAZARÉ / 2nd weekend of October
Thee Cirio of Nazaré is celebrated since 1793 in honor of Nossa Senhora de Nazaré. The most important religious holiday in Brazil, it is also one of the most important Christian Holidays in the world. No less than a million and a half people accompany the procession –leading to the statue of the Virgin from the cathedral to the grandiose Basilica carrying her name- asking her to intercede in their favor. Incantations and tearful prayers emanate from the crowd. The devotion resembles hysteria during the 6 hours of the procession. The Cirio de Nazaré constitutes, as much by its size as by the ardent atmosphere characterizing it, one of the most fascinating events that can be witnessed in Brazil.
  • Oktoberfest (similar to the Beer Fest in Munich) / 3rd week of October
  • Fortal / Last week of July
  • Iemanja Celebration / August 15th
  • Equinoccio da primavera / September 21st to 22nd, 2008
  • Guarana celebration / towards November 15th
  • Boi Manaus / October 24th
  • Carnatal / 1st fifteen days of December Christmas in Portuguese is...Natal. The town celebrates itself that same day, which makes it the only place in the world where something else than Christmas is celebrated on Christmas day!
  • Festival de Inverno / July
  • Mines holiday / October 12th
  • Aleijadinho Memorial/ November 14th to 18th
  • Carnival (see "bloco da lama") / February
  • Festa do Divino / 40 days after Easter
  • FLIP (International Literary Festival of Paraty) / July
  • Pinga Festival / 3rd weekend in August

This village, planted on the island of the same name, 262 miles East of Manaus, on the Pará and the Amazon, doesn’t offer any other interest than the festival occurring once a year (usually June 28th, 29th and 30th).

The Boi Bumba is celebrated there, a fest of foreign origin, brought by the seringueiros that came from the Nordeste to collect latex and who imported their ritual.

It takes its roots in the rivalry that, a long time ago, opposed, two cattle breeding family about their respective ox (boi). This opposition has, over the years, taken a collective dimension, and has become part of the tradition.

Each year (the last weekend in June), hundred thousands people come to Partintins (making it the second popular manifestation in Brazil after the Carnival).

Each one, choose for life, to be part of one of these two groups: CAPRICHOSO or GARANTIDO.

The first are recognizable by their blue costumes, the seconds by red ones, and their rivalry is not violent.

During 3 days and 3 nights, inventive parades follow one another in the "bumbodrome" of Parintins.

In a debauchery of confetti and decibels, an Amazonian fresco is presented during which traditional and ancestral figures are summoned, as well as others, more modern.

Thus, after the show of an immense allegory of Pope Jean Paul II, appears the float taking the “page” (cacique / sorcerer of the Amazonian tribes) surrounded by dancers in a trance and accompanied by a plaster cow wearing the color of its clan. The crowd is fascinated, the music becomes loader; it is the apex of the ceremony.

When the jury gives its verdict, while half of the attendants scream of happiness, the losers promise to return, stronger, the following year.

  • Indians’ Day / April 20th
  • Missa do Vaqueiro / July, no fixed dates
  • Reconstitution of the battle of dos Guararapes / 2nd week of September
  • Procession honoring Iemanjà / 1st week of December
  • Procession of Senhor Bom Jesus dos Navegantes / January 1st
  • Lavagem do Bonfim / 2nd Thursday after the Wise men
  • Festa de Ribeira / towards January 15th
  • Folk Day / August 22nd
  • NSamba night / December 2nd
  • Festas de Largo da Bahia / starts in December with the Festa de Nossa Senhora da Conceição, lasts until carnival
  • In Santo Amaro: Bembê do Mercado / May 13th
  • In Cachoeira: Nossa Senhora da Boa Morte / mid-August
  • Festa do çairé / whole month of September
  • Folk Festival / towards August 20th and Sundays in October
  • Tambor-de-Mina / end of June – beginning of July

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