By Beatriz Miranda, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Strongly marked by Christian culture, Brazil is a place where Easter never goes unnoticed. Family gatherings during the Holy Week is a tradition for most people, even for the non-religious. In Rio, Cariocas and expats also love celebrating Easter, especially with a hearty, Portuguese-like Sunday lunch.
Celebrated on the first Sunday after the forty-day lent period that starts on Carnival’s Ash Wednesday, Easter is a very popular holiday in Brazil. Like in every predominantly Christian country, the holiday is associated with forgiveness, compassion, and fasting.
Among Cariocas, it is common to save Easter Sunday for family gatherings where people share hearty meals with strong Portuguese culinary influences. Thus, dishes including codfish are a must on every Carioca family’s table.
Apart from the typical family lunch on Easter Sunday, Cariocas love to play the game, “my secret friend”, on this date. Usually organized among friends and works colleagues during the Easter week, the game allows people to spend time together and have a good time while they describe their “secret friend” and exchange chocolate bars or Easter eggs.
For those wanting to attend to a typical Easter mass this Sunday, April 1st, Rio’s Christ Church, the only English speaking Anglican Church in Rio de Janeiro and located in Botafogo, will organize a “Sunrise Service” at the Cemitério dos Ingleses, in Gamboa, Centro. The communion will happen at 6AM as a symbolic gesture to greet the rise of Jesus.
On Monday, April 2nd, Christ Church will host an Easter Concert at 8PM. Accompanied by the organ, the Church’s choir will sing in Latin and English, presenting a potpourri of Bach, Handel, Beethoven, John Steiner, Clarence Dickinson, among other composers. The entrance to the concert is free, even though donations are accepted.
What’s more, some of Rio’s shopping malls will be offering playful activities this weekend, especially dedicated to children. In Botafogo, the Rio Sul mall will be hosting storytelling sessions and Easter egg hunts this Saturday, March 31st, from 10AM to 10AM, and Sunday, April 1st, from 3PM to 10PM.
In Centro, this Saturday, March 31st, the Bossa Nova Mall will host painting workshops, treasure hunts, theater plays, and games featuring the Easter bunny, from 11AM to 2PM.
For Easter Sunday lunch, those who prefer eating out should check out the Easter menu from the restaurant, Rancho Português in Ipanema, which will serve the mouthwatering “Bacalhau à Narciso”, a classic Portuguese-style codfish recipe. At the great Antiquarius, in Leblon, the “Bacalhau à Moda Antiga” also promises to please picky eaters.
A great alternative for Easter’s traditional codfish is Nam Thai’s Thai food, whose Easter menu includes a dessert of Belgium chocolate with caramelized banana and toffee sauce.
When it comes to finding the best Easter eggs, Rio possesses some high quality chocolate houses where one can find delicious treats for relatives and friends. Among the best picks are Bendito, in Copacabana, which serves homemade cookies, brownies, and cakes; Q Chocolate Aquim, in Ipanema, run by expert chocolatiers; and Cacau Noir, in Leblon.
“I am not religious, so I don’t have the kind of meals Christians do. I do buy chocolates though, just because I know my kids like it and it’s a good excuse for me to eat some too!” says Rocio TC, a Peruvian teacher who has been living in the State of Rio for 22 years.