By Chesney Hearst, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Celebrations of Easter in Rio de Janeiro and Brazil, a country home to one of the largest Catholic populations in the world and an increasing evangelical population, often center around religion, family, and friends. Known as Páscoa in Portuguese, the holiday of Easter falls this year on Sunday, March 27th.
The day of Easter is part of the a week of observances known as Semana Santa (Holy Week). According to the traditions of the Roman Catholic Church, Holy Week begins on Palm Sunday, which fell this year on Sunday, March 20th.
The national holiday in Brazil, when many businesses and schools in Brazil close, did not begin until Good Friday (Sexta Paixão), which this year took place on March 25th.
During the Semana Santa, religious services are taking place throughout the city. Several churches offer services in English including the Christ Church in Botafogo, the only English-speaking Anglican Church in Rio, and the Union Church in Barra da Tijuca, which will host Easter Services beginning at 10AM on Sunday, March 27th.
Pastor Jay Bauman, who has been the Senior Pastor at Union Church since 2014 explains his thoughts on how Easter is celebrated in Brazil. “In the States, Easter services are biggest services we have all year. But in Brazil, many people take a holiday and enjoy the weekend off, as part of Semana Santa.”
Adding “But either way, Christians in both countries celebrate this important date. It really is the most important date on the Christian calendar, because the Resurrection is the cornerstone of the Christian faith.”
Christ Church’s new chaplain, Mark Simpson shared that tomorrow they will have a “Special Easter Sunday service with guest performance from musician Garth Hewitt at 10:30 AM on March 27th.”
In place of Easter egg hunts, traditional holiday activities in Brazil include the giving large chocolate Easter eggs filled will everything from toys to candy to various creme fillings to smaller chocolates. Additionally helping to satisfy sweet tooths during the holiday, the Gringo Café in Ipanema, will offer special take-home and made-to-order menu options of special cookies decorated for the holiday and regular favorites including American-style carrot cake, red velvet cake and NY-style cheesecake.