By Mary Carroll, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Dia dos Namorados (June 12th) is the Brazilian version of Valentine’s Day and is celebrated on the eve of St. Anthony’s Day (June 13th), the Portuguese patron saint of matrimony. Over history, the story is that girls would pray to St. Anthony for a husband, but of course today it is a general celebration of love and romance.
Legend tells of girls writing the names of three potential boyfriends on little pieces of paper and placing them under their pillow on June 12th. The first name to be pulled out from under their pillow in the morning would be their soul mate.
In 1950, João Doria, a famous Brazilian advertiser, made an advertisement with the following slogan “It’s not just with kisses that you prove your love,” as a result Brazilians nowadays celebrate Dia dos Namoradas in a rather similar fashion to how Americans and Europeans celebrate Valentine’s Day.
Yves de Roquemaurel, a French expatriate in Rio and owner of Coccinelle bistrô in Centro explains: “It’s a big event here in Brazil [... and in] France it’s a big event too, men buy a present for their wife or girlfriend, take them to a nice restaurant [...] In Japan it’s the women who buy presents (usually chocolate) for men.”
With June 12th falling on a Tuesday this year, many are finding ways to extend the holiday throughout the week, taking advantage of both weekends. Roquemaurel describes the special menu for the week: “Thai salad with chicken, mango and avocado, fresh herbs and spices, duck breast (from organic farm in Petropolis), with red berries sauce, banana purê and beetroot purê with a Raspberry tart for dessert.”
Roses may be the standard gift for the holiday, but certainly sweets are a close second. Luckily Rio has a variety of delicious bakeries and the Gringo Café has some amazing Chocolate Ganache Cupcakes, Peanut Butter Truffles and Cheesecakes.
Though Valentines day is primarily a romantic couples-day, American expatriate and Gringo Café owner, Sam Flowers, explained, “namorados seems to include more than just couples (spouses, boyfriends and girlfriends) … When Brazilians celebrate the day they include all types of ‘loved ones’.”
For those that are not in a relationship, and not trying to romance anyone in particular, Nik Sushi in Ipanema (Rua Garcia D’Ávila) is throwing a ‘Sushi Singles’ day on June 13th. Manager Nina Lacerda explains, “a lot of people are single, and they have the right to celebrate their freedom, their love for everybody.”
Lacerda continues: “We gonna have in every table a red and green sign (like the ones in churrascarias). So, if the person doesn’t mind sharing a table with more people, they turn it with the green side up and if they don’t want to be disturbed, they just turn it with the red side up.”
“We brazilians are known to be very friendly and we think that everyday is time to make new friends, and with drinks and good food on the table, it is even better!”