By Beatriz Miranda, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – This weekend Cariocas and other locals will gather on Rio’s streets to pay tribute to Saint George (São Jorge, in Portuguese), one of the city’s favorite saints in the lead-up to the state holiday on Monday, April 23rd.
From Zona Norte (North Zone) to Zona Sul (South Zone), several events will honor the saint, including “rodas de samba”, feijoadas, processions, live music, and dance presentations.
São Jorge, the “Santo Guerreiro” (the warrior saint, as many like to call him), is considered one of the most popular saints in the world and recognized by Catholic, Orthodox, and Anglican Christians.
In Brazil, and in Rio de Janeiro more specifically, São Jorge gained notoriety among believers due to its religious syncretism, a strategy used by African descendants to preserve the cult of their “orixás” (deities) – which, back in the day, was forbidden by public authorities.
Because of his bravery and warrior’s spirit, São Jorge was chosen to represent Afro Brazilian “orixá” Ogum, the God of steel, technology, and war.
Today, several practitioners of Afro Brazilian religions, like Umbanda and Candomblé, revere São Jorge as he is the representation of Ogum. The tradition of eating feijoada on April 23rd, is also derived from the Afro culture, which considers feijoada as Ogum’s favorite dish.
Also very popular in the Música Popular Brasileira‘s scene, São Jorge has already inspired many famous composers, like Jorge Benjor, Zeca Pagodinho, Moacyr Luz, Aldir Bland, and even the English band, Iron Maiden.
Rio’s celebrations will start on Saturday, April 21st, with the “Festa para Ogum” (Party to Ogum), in Centro, from 4PM to 9PM.
Taking place at the Valongo Wharf, once the largest entry point for African slaves in the Americas, the party aims to revive Afro Brazilian traditions. The group Tambor de Cumba, will sing and dance to the rhythm of “jongo,” “coco,” and “samba de roda.” There will also be a “maculelê” workshop with Mestre Naja and Grupo Besouro.
Sunday, April 22nd, promises to be an eventful day of festivities. At Beco das Sardinhas, in Centro, from 12PM to 10PM, the “Festejos Cariocas” fair will host an edition specially dedicated to São Jorge, with food stalls and live music run by groups Música Popular de Terreiro de João Azevedo and Sambanosso with Beta Nistra.
Also in Centro, the sixth edition of the traditional “Festa de Ogum” (Ogum’s party) is coming back to Praça da Harmonia. From 2PM to 11PM, the event will hold poetry and literature slams and a “roda de samba” with Alexandre Nadai, Zé Samba, and guest musicians.
What’s more, at Terreirão do Samba (located right next to the Sambódromo), there will be the “Salve Jorge, Salve Arlindo”, a show dedicated to São Jorge and musician Arlindo Cruz with various artists, at 8PM. At 4:30 AM, during Monday’s breaking dawn, the artists will invite the audience to follow the procession to the São Jorge Church, in Centro, next to Campo de Santana.
A couple of cultural attractions will also be held in Zona Norte, like the party “Awurê – Onirê Ogum”, promoting samba and Afro-Brazilian dance performances in Madureira, from 4PM to 11:30 PM.
São Jorge’s actual day, Monday 23rd, will be filled with several events, mostly the traditional “feijoadas”: at Trapiche Gamboa, in Centro, the feijoada (R$40) will be accompanied by great live music with group Kebajê, at 7PM. In Tijuca, restaurant Santo Galo will host the show group, Arruda, and serve a special feijoada for R$30 and includes a caipirinha.
What: São Jorge’s (Saint George’s) Day in Rio
When: April 21st – 23rd
Where: varies according to the event.
Entrance: varies according to the event.
Correction: This article has been modified since originally published on Friday, April 20th, to clarify Saint George is a favorite in Rio de Janeiro, where the saint vies in popularity with the city’s official patron Saint Sebastian.