The commemoration of the Resurrection of Christ is observed by most Brazilians, and the whole period from Good Friday to Easter Sunday is considered sacred.
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Note: Good Friday is an optional holiday, known as Ponto facultativos.
Holy Week in Brazil has long been marked by rituals, processions, and cultural celebrations all across the country. These commemorations are similar to those held in other Latin American nations and in the European nations from which Roman Catholicism came to Brazil, but Brazil has certainly developed distinctive traditions as well.
The Procissão do Fogaréu is a public procession reenacting arrest of Christ on the Mount of Olives and his transport to the Sanhedrin for judgment. This drama has been performed in Brazil for over two centuries in the city of Goiás Velho. Similar events also are performed in other Brazilian towns, but only the Goiás Velho procession includes “farricocos,” which are robed and hooded torch-carriers representative of the soldiers who arrested Christ.
The most famous Brazilian passion play is the one held in Nova Jerusalém (New Jerusalem), a huge open-air theatre located in the city of Pernambuco. The theatre covers nearly 40 square miles, and its boundaries are marked by stone walls. Here, eight annual performances of the Passion Narrative are reenacted, and each one of them averages 8,000 attendees.
Many towns will also have processions on Palm Sunday (Domingo do Ramos), wherein they carry palms through the streets like the Jews did when Christ entered Jerusalem. Churches will hold a special Mass on this date.
On Maundy Thursday, many local Catholic churches will celebrate Lava-pés, which commemorates the washing of the disciples’ feet by Jesus at the Last Supper. Twelve people chosen from the congregation will have their feet washed by a priest.
On Good Friday, in many locales, you can witness the Procissão do Encontro. Women will carry a statue of the “Virgin of Sorrows” and meet up with men carrying a figure of the cross-bearing Christ. Veronica’s Chant will also be sung, which song is a Brazilian tradition based on an Apochryphal account of Veronica wiping off the face of Christ on his way to the cross.
On Holy Saturday, the Vigília Pascal will be kept by many Brazilians in anticipation of Easter Morning. A fire will be lit, which will later be used to light another candle on Easter Morning. That second candle is known as the “Easter Candle” and symbolises Christ as the Light of the World.
Easter Sunday itself is also a time for processions and special Masses. Many cities celebrate by laying down carpets on their streets ahead of the procession. sometimes, these “carpets” are made out of things like flowers, coffee, and wood shavings.