By Brennan Stark, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Brazil celebrates national Independence Day, Wednesday, September 7th, and patriots and holiday-makers will take to the streets throughout the country and beyond. Often called Sete de Setembro (7th of September), the date commemorates Brazil’s Declaration of Independence from the hands of the Portuguese on September 7th, 1822.
In Brasília, a military parade will take place at the Ministries Esplanade with President Dilma Rousseff in attendance, and many other political leaders will gather to talk about the nation’s history and heritage. The parade reportedly costs approximately R$1 million and typically attracts a crowd of over 30,000 spectators.
All of Brazil’s state capitals and many large cities throughout the country will hold similar military parades, such as São Paulo’s Anhembi Sambadrome. Rio de Janeiro’s own famous military procession will parade along downtown’s Avenida President Vargas, with celebrations warming up around 8AM. One can get there by metro by exiting at Vargas, Central or Praça Onze.
The holiday is similar to the U.S. Independence Day, although perhaps without as much inescapable enthusiasm. Chuck Cassie, a Canadian living in Rio says: “I’ve lived here four years and have never seen anything special for this holiday.” When comparing it to Canadian Independence Day he goes on to explain: “[It] seems to be celebrated only in Ottawa … it goes unnoticed elsewhere.”
Although Cassie has missed out, Brazil’s relatively bloodless independence from Portugal is celebrated each September 7th with much fanfare and tradition. As a national holiday almost everyone is given the day off from work, and certainly Cariocas come out each year determined to take advantage of the holiday.
Also, while many countries commemorate their own national independence from previously more powerful countries, few see their freedom celebrated all around the world as Brazil witnesses each year.
New York City’s “Brazilian Day” is held annually each September 7th to coincide with Brazil’s independence, and begins on 46th Street in Manhattan near Times Square, an area named “Little Brazil Street.” Last year, it was reported that over 1.5 million people participated in the festival, which transformed into an massive celebration over 25 blocks wide.
The parade was complete with dancing, singing, parades, and, of course, eating native Brazilian cuisine, from ice-cold coconut water to the (in)famous caipirinha. The main event occurs at night as two massive stages on 6th Avenue hold performances by top Brazilian artists, with Globo TV annually televising the concert to Brazil and 135 other countries.
Similiar celebrations can be found in San Diego, Florida, Toronto, Los Angeles and London, among many other cities as Brazil’s celebrations of freedom ring all throughout the world. Happy Independence Day Brazil!