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.

Did you know?

During Carnival, each samba school parades through the downtown streets showing off its own costumes, dances and rhythm sections. The samba schools compete against each other and prizes are awarded for the best song, costume and dance.

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.