By Chesney Hearst, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – In Rio de Janeiro and Brazil, a country home to one of the largest Catholic populations in the world and an increasing evangelical population, celebrations of Easter, which falls this year on April 5th, often center around religion, family and friends.
Easter, known as Páscoa in Portuguese, is part of the a week of observances known as Semana Santa (Holy Week). According to the traditions of the Roman Catholic Church, Holy Week begins on Palm Sunday, which falls this year on Sunday, March 29th.
The national holiday in Brazil does not begin until Good Friday (Sexta Paixão), this year landing on April 3rd. Businesses and schools in Brazil close on this day.
During the Semana Santa, religious services will take place throughout the city. Several churches will offer services in English including the Union Church in Barra da Tijuca and the Christ Church in Botafogo, the only English-speaking Anglican Church in Rio.
On Palm Sunday, the Christ Church will host a short Holy Communion Service led by Rev. Eduardo Grillo at 8AM. There will also be a Morning Prayer led by Rev. Mark Simpson and Sunday School for children at 10:30 AM. On Good Friday, there will be a joint service with São Lucas led by Rev. Eduardo Grillo.
Then on Easter Sunday, there will be a short Holy Communion Service led by Rev. Nicholas Wheeler at 8AM and a Family Communion Service led by Rev. Mark Simpson at 10:30 AM.
Although Easter egg hunting is not a tradition in Brazil, some families have adopted the activity. What is traditional in the country, is giving large chocolate Easter eggs filled will everything from toys, to candy, to various creme fillings to smaller chocolates.
“Seems to be wall to wall chocolate bunnies to me in the supermarkets here in Barra [da Tijuca]!” Cheryl Beesley from the United Kingdom said of the holidays. “As a Brit though Cadbury’s chocolate eggs would be a real plus!”
For those also looking for other sweets on Easter, Gringo Café in Ipanema regularly sells whole cakes including their American Style carrot cake, popular Red Velvet Cake and their NY-style cheesecake. The cafe also will offer brunch during Easter weekend with take home and made to order menu options including bagels by the dozen.
In addition to eating, spending time with family and religious services, there will also be numerous get-togethers and parties held during Holy Week.
In the past, InterNations has hosted Easter-themed events, as have hostels and various groups around the city including the American Society of Rio de Janeiro (AmSoc Rio) and the British and Commonwealth Society of Rio de Janeiro (BCS).