Just before Lent begins, Brazilians celebrate Carnival
with a huge party. For months in advance, people spend time making elaborate costumes
and floats, as well as practising their music and dancing. In many cities, entire streets
are roped off for the celebrations and many businesses and stores are closed for the four
days. In the big cities such as Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and Salvador, thousands
of people organize into samba schools. Dozens of musicians play various shapes and
sizes of tambourines, rattles and drums.
Brazil also has festivals throughout the year which include the June Festivals Festas Juninas. In June several religious holy days occur. Brazilians celebrate these with many parties. Children dress up in old-fashioned plaid clothes, paint freckles on their faces and wear straw hats. People also dance the quadrilha, a Brazilian square dance.
September 7 is Brazil's Independence Day. This is the day in 1822 when the country was declared independent of Portugal.
Christmas is important for Brazilians. Families will often get
together and celebrate on Christmas Eve rather than Christmas Day. The seasons in Brazil
are opposite to those of Canada, so it is usually hot at Christmas time.
On New Year's Eve, thousands of spiritists, people who practice Spiritism, gather on the beaches of the Atlantic Coast. They come together to pay tribute to Iemanja, the goddess of the sea. This is a time to be thankful for the past year and to ask Iemanja for her blessing in the year to come.