By Fiona Hurrell, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – While most countries have already celebrated Valentine’s Day this year, Brazil has been gearing up for it this week. Today (Wednesday, June 12th) marks Dia dos Namorados and in Rio, shops and restaurants have been busy making preparations for this celebration of romance.
Dia dos Namorados in Brazil falls on the day before Saint Anthony’s day (considered to be the marriage saint) and is widely considered the main reason why Valentine’s Day is observed in June rather than February. Another possible reason is that the traditional Valentine’s Day on February 14th would clash with Brazil’s famous Carnival celebration, which takes place around the same time.
Aside the difference in date, the traditions of Valentine’s Day are very similar as in Europe and North America. Gifts are exchanged, usually of chocolates or flowers, and couples go out to enjoy a meal together, or some other ‘date-night’ activity.
Nina Silva of Japanese restaurant Nik Sushi in Ipanema explains how they create a romantic setting for diners on Valentine’s Day. Silva reveals, “To make the lovers feel special, we are going to decorate Nik with red Japanese spotlights. We hope, the red shades of light and ornate unique aesthetics help create a romantic atmosphere.”
Another dining option is to combine the gift of a beautiful bouquet of flowers with a sweet red velvet cupcake dessert, courtesy of the Gringo Café in Ipanema. American owner Sam Flowers will be hosting an event for florist Marcelo Argento who will be selling his flower arrangements from 11AM-7PM on June 12th.
Elsewhere, well known chocolatier Cacao located in Ipanema and shopping Rio Sul, is selling a range of Valentine’s Day delicacies beautifully presented in traditional heart shaped boxes.
Other gift ideas include a limited edition bag, purse or ipad case from Gilson Martins new Valentine’s Day set. The designs tastefully depict two of Rio’s most iconic landmarks, the Sugarloaf Mountain and the Christ Redeemer statue separated by a tiny red heart on a white or black background.
Store supervisor Marcello Barros from Gilson Martins Ipanema branch explains, “The bags are cleverly designed for both men and women since the logo is not especially feminine. An added bonus is that anyone who spends over R$380 in the store will receive a free Valentine’s Day ipad cover.”
Those in the mood for a night of samba should head to Mab’s on Copacabana Beach where there will be a special Valentine’s Day dance competition starting at 9PM. Manager Luis Neves adds, “We will have Valentine’s decorations on the tables and a special menu for that occasion.”
Although Valentine’s Day is a special time for couples it can be equally dreaded by singletons who, very often, feel compelled to stay at home during Valentine’s Day. At Nik Sushi however, the team are preparing an anti-valentines night for the day after (June 13th) called Dia dos Solteiros Bem Resolvidos (Happy Bachelor’s day).
Silva explains, “Everybody is welcome on that day, singles, friends, couples, families, lovers. The thing is that during dinnertime, whoever doesn`t mind sharing a table with strangers, wins a drink. So, at the end of the meal the person may win not only a drink, but a new lover or a new friend.”
Similarly, on Thursday night InterNations in Rio is hosting a special ‘Traffic Light‘ party, at The Line in Centro, which is open to everyone. Wear red to signify unavailability, orange for not sure and green for singles open to meeting new prospects. The event starts at 6:30PM and costs R$20 for members and R$30 for non-members.