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Brazilian Celebrations & Holidays

Brazil’s best-known festival is probably carnival. It’s celebrated across the nation and is linked to beginning of Lent in the Christian calendar. The festival takes place over about five days, starting on the Friday before Ash Wednesday and ending on Ash Wednesday itself. The most famous carnival is that held in Rio, where dozens of samba schools parade through the streets accompanied by colorful floats and dancers as part of a competition to find the top school. Wherever you are in Brazil at carnival time, you’re likely to encounter some sort of celebration; in the northeast, Olinda’s carnival is famous for its parade of almost 500 large puppets.


Bumba-Meu-Boi, which roughly translates as “hit my bull,” is a festival with traditional roots and takes place in most areas of the country. Locals work throughout the year to create a bull from a wire frame covered in papier mache, which is then used as part of a folk dance. The dance tells the story of a bull which was killed and then brought back to life by traditional healers and music.

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