From Dia de Tiradentes to Nossa Senhora Aparecida, and alongside internationally recognized celebrations such as Christmas, or Natal, and New Year’s Day, or Ano Novo, Brazil celebrates a number of special and often unique occasions, according to Miriam Chesner. A New York University graduate and South American cultural expert based in New Jersey, here Chesner explores several of Brazil’s biggest and most widely acknowledged cultural celebrations and occasions.
“Much like elsewhere in the world, each new year in Brazil kicks off with Ano Novo or New Year’s Day,” she explains. Celebrating the beginning of the year, festivities mirror those found across the globe, including counting down to midnight. “It also marks the traditional end of the Natal or Christmas holiday period,” adds New Jersey-based Chesner.
“The first big event after Ano Novo is a carnival,” she continues, “which occurs approximately a month prior to Easter.”
Synonymous with Brazil, the five-day long carnival is celebrated throughout the country. “Rio is arguably the best place to be for a carnival,” suggests Chesner, adding that, in Rio, the occasion is celebrated on a much grander scale than just about anywhere else in the country.
Following wider Easter celebrations comes Dia de Tiradentes, which pays tribute to an insurgent movement which aimed to establish an independent Brazilian republic, according to Chesner. “A public holiday in Brazil, Dia de Tiradentes is shortly followed by Dia do Trabalhador, or Work Day,” she adds. Celebrating the achievements of workers and the Brazilian labor movement, Dia Do Trabalhador is also celebrated as May Day elsewhere in the world.
Next, New Jersey’s Miriam Chesner points toward Brazil’s Independence Day, on September 7. “Known as Dia da Independência, the day celebrates the country’s declaration of independence from Portugal on the same day in 1822,” she reveals, “and is a popular cause for celebration.”
Mid-October meanwhile marks Nossa Senhora Aparecida, which commemorates the Virgin Mary as Nossa Senhora da Conceição Aparecida, patron saint of Brazil, according to Chesner. “Nossa Senhora Aparecida is followed by Dia de Finados and Proclamação da República, or All Souls’ Day and Republic Proclamation Day, in November,” she continues. A Christian holiday, All Souls’ Day commemorates the faithful departed, while Republic Proclamation Day commemorates the end of the Empire of Brazil.
“Bringing the year to a close, much like in the U.S. and elsewhere globally,” Chesner adds, wrapping up, “December 25 brings with it Christmas, or Natal, and celebrates the nativity of Jesus.”