The Ultimate Guide of Brazilian Celebrations and Holidays
- Wednesday August 10th, 2022
- Posted by: Amanda Ennes
- Category: Brazil
There are some holidays and festivities that people celebrate worldwide, like Christmas and Mother’s Day. However, some regional celebrations are particular to a specific country. In Brazil, we have some traditional parties and holidays important to all Brazilians, such as Carnival and Festa Junina. Furthermore, other Brazilian celebrations less famous worldwide are also significant to the nation.
In this blog post, we bring you an ultimate guide to the most important and popular Brazilian celebrations in the country, including religious holidays, music festivals, and cultural festivities.
Lavagem do Bonfim
Lavagem do Bonfim is a religious celebration in Salvador. It is the largest event in Bahia after Carnival. On this day, thousands of worshippers attend the masses hosted that day and, after that, go on a religious walk of approximately 8 kilometers, between the Church of Nossa Senhora da Conceição da Praia and the Sacred Hill.
Folia de Reis
This party represents Brazilian Folklore and other religious celebrations. It happens from December 24th until January 6th. It celebrates the visit of the three wise men to Jesus. The festivity happens all over Brazil, especially in the states of the Northeast region.
Carnival happens around 40 days before Easter. So, usually during the month of February, sometimes March. There are Carnival festivities all around Brazil, but the most popular parties are in Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, Recife, Olinda, and Ouro Preto. You can enjoy Carnival by going to the street parties or watching the samba schools’ parades.
Reall all about Carnival here: All About Carnival in Brazil – History, Where to Go & Vocabulary.
The Yemanjá Feast is a religious celebration in honor of a major water spirit in Brazil. It is one of the largest religious events in the country, celebrated every year on February 2nd. On that day, a huge crowd goes to the beaches of Rio Vermelho in Salvador to celebrate Yemanjá. Hundreds of boats also follow the festivity, bringing gifts to the goddess of the sea.
Lollapalooza is an annual music festival held in different parts of the world. In Brazil, São Paulo hosts the festival since 2012. The event brings to the country the most famous pop singers in the world, as well as the big names in the Brazilian music industry.
In Brazil, we also celebrate April Fools on April 1st. However, we call it Dia da Mentira (Day of Lies). It is time to trick your friend with false claims and white lies and see if they fall for your pranks.
Easter in Brazil revolves around religious celebrations, family, food, and chocolate. Easter eggs are the most common gifts shared between loved ones, especially kids. The Easter mass and Easter lunch are also important, with most families eating fish this day.
Furthermore, the Passion of Christ is also an important aspect of this holiday. Hundreds of theater companies perform the biblical drama all around Brazil.
This public holiday falls on May 1st. It celebrates Brazilian workers and the labor movement. Many cities host free live concerts for the population as well as other events around the neighborhoods.
Further reading: Day Off: Public Holidays in Brazil.
Virada Cultural is an event that lasts for 24 hours non-stop in São Paulo. It features cultural events, such as live concerts, plays, art and history exhibitions, and much more. There are different stages around the city center and the organizers encourage the population to occupy the streets to socialize and have fun.
Mother’s Day in Brazil is celebrated on the second Sunday of May and children spend the day with their mothers, sharing gifts and having lunch together.
Festa Junina is one of the most popular Brazilian celebrations among its people. It occurs in June, during the wintertime in Brazil. It is a big part of the Brazilian culture, which celebrates the harvest season and also the Saints of June. Festa Junina in Brazil is also famous for its traditional clothes, colors, decorations, games, and, of course, the food!
Even though most Brazilians celebrate Festa Junina nowadays, it is mostly a Catholic party. Church fairs followed by masses are organized to celebrate Saint Antony on June 13th, Saint John the Baptist on June 24th, and Saint Peter on June 29th.
Read more about Festa Junina on our blog post Festa Junina in Brazil – Traditional Church Fairs.
Parintins Folklore Festival
The Parintins Folklore Festival is a popular annual celebration held in Amazonas. It is one of the most famous Brazilian festivals in the country, almost as big as Carnival. It happens every year on the last weekend of June.
This party is an important part of Brazilian Folklore and culture. It is an interactive play that tells the urban legend of the death and resurrection of an ox as a form of social criticism. Two main groups, Caprichoso and Garantido, compete every year to see which one tells the best story. Each team attempts to outdo the other in a parade, with dances, singing, and allegorical floats. The performance is based on local Amazonian folklore and indigenous culture.
Read more about this urban legend on our blog: 8 Mystical Creatures from Brazilian Folklore.
Brazilians call their Valentine’s Day Dia dos Namorados, which means Boyfriends’/Girlfriends’ Day in Portuguese. This romantic holiday is celebrated every year on June 12th. It was a brand new holiday created in 1948 to boost sales. During this date, couples exchange gifts, spend the day together, and decorate their homes with hearts and roses.
Read about Valentine’s Day in Brazil: June 12: Valentine’s Day in Brazil – History and Traditions.
On July 26th, we celebrate Grandparent’s Day by sharing nice memories with our grandparents. It is not a holiday as important as Father’s or Mother’s Day in Brazil, but Brazilians tend to have a really nice relationship with their grandparents. Hence, they tend to call them and share their love on this date.
Father’s Day in Brazil is celebrated just like Mother’s Day. Children spend the day with their fathers, having lunch, hanging out, and sharing gifts.
Festa do Peão de Barretos
Even though rodeos can be controversial nowadays, the Peão de Barretos Festival is still a huge event in Brazil. Actually, it is one of the most famous festivals in Latin America. It happens every August in São Paulo and lasts around 10 days.
This festival is the largest country festival in Brazil, featuring rodeos, live concerts of the most famous country artists in Brazil, blowing horn competitions, rodeo queen coronation, and other traditional attractions.
Saints Cosmas and Damian’s Day
This celebration was huge all around Brazil until the 2000s, but it has been struggling to maintain its popularity in the past decades, especially in big cities. This festivity has ties with the Catholic and Afro-Brazilin religions community, in which worshippers give candy to children as a way to please the saints. The candies are put in a paper or plastic bag decorated with the saints’ images and the neighborhood’s children go knock on people’s doors to ask for treats.
While candy hunting is similar to Halloween in the United States, there are no tricks or costumes involved.
Rock in Rio
One of the biggest music festivals in the world, Rock in Rio happens every two years in Rio de Janeiro – usually in September, sometimes in October. The festival lasts for 6 or 7 days and is joined by big names in the music industry, such as the most famous bands and pop singers in the world.
Children’s Day is a big deal in Brazil, with parents, grandparents, godparents, and other family members planning the day ahead to make a special day for their children. They also give the kids nice gifts, as children await this day the whole year long, just like Christmas.
Just like the famous beer festival in Germany, Brazil has its own version of the Oktoberfest. It is held every October in Blumenau and it is considered the biggest German festival in the Americas.
Círio de Nazaré
Círio de Nazaré happens every second Sunday of October in Belém. It is among the most important religious Brazilian celebrations. Thousands of people follow the statue of Our Lady of Nazareth of Exile through the streets of Belém in a procession.
All Souls’ Day
On November 2nd, Brazilians celebrate All Souls’ Day. It is a public holiday in Brazil and many people visit the cemetery to pay respect and remember their late loved ones. They bring flowers and candles to their graves and mourn their losses.
In Brazil, families tend to get together at night on Christmas eve. We call it Christmas Night (Noite de Natal). People dress up in new clothes and a massive feast is served around midnight when families celebrate the start of Christmas Day. And when we say family, we do mean the whole family. In Brazil, it is common for cousins, second cousins, aunts, and uncles to join the immediate family for the Christmas celebration.
Read all about the Christmas celebration in Brazil here: Christmas in Brazil and How to Say Merry Christmas in Portuguese.
New Year’s Eve
New Year’s Eve is popularly called Réveillon in Brazil. People dress up, gather with family and friends, watch fireworks, and celebrate the beginning of a new year. But that’s not all! New Year’s Eve in Brazil is a huge celebration, in which people make plans way ahead to party all week long. Not to mention following all those amazing unique traditions.
Watch teacher Deise’s video on Brazilian celebrations and holidays:
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