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By Ciara Long, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Today, Friday, April 21st, is a public holiday celebrating Brazilian revolutionary Joaquim José da Silva Xavier, otherwise known as Tiradentes. The public holiday in his honor kicks off a host of celebrations throughout the long weekend.

Praça Tiradentes, Rio de Janeiro, brazil, Brazil News
Praça Tiradentes in Rio de Janeiro, photo by Gaban/Wikimedia Creative Commons License.

Joaquim José da Silva Xavier was born in the state of Minas Gerais in 1746, and is credited with leading the fight for Brazil’s independence from the control of the Portuguese monarchy.

Although he was tried and executed on April 21, 1792 for his efforts to create an independent republic in Minas, he is largely credited as a driving force behind Brazil’s later independence.

The name Tiradentes, which translates to ‘tooth puller’, was given to him during court trials due to his profession as a dentist. However, today he is most commonly referred to by Brazilians using this nickname.

Brazilians do not have a typical way to celebrate the day, aside from political commemorations involving placing a wreath in near the monument in Praça Tiradentes. However, St George’s Day also falls this weekend, on April 22nd, and the saint’s popularity among Brazilians means that celebrations take place across the city this weekend.

St George is a popular religious figure in Brazil, photo by Alexandre Macieira/Riotur.
St George is a popular religious figure in Brazil, photo by Alexandre Macieira/Riotur.

Although St George is the patron saint of England, he is seen by Brazilians as a ‘warrior saint’, and honored as a protector from violence and assault. Many Brazilians will celebrate with a feijoada with family, friends and neighbors.

For those wishing to join in with traditional St George’s Day celebrations in Rio, several venues across Rio will hold feijoadas in honor of the saint this Sunday, April 23rd.

Across the bay in Niterói, samba school Unidos de Viradouro invites guests to a feijoada with musical accompaniment and plenty of samba from 2PM, for R$20 for entry plus the cost of the feijoada. Located in Centro, Renascença Clube will hold similar celebrations, with R$20 for entry and a further R$20 for the feijoada.

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