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Christmas in Salvador, Bahia


Christma tree decorations lights

Christma tree, decorations and lights

South of the Equator, Christmas is in the middle of summer. In Brazil, though it is blazing hot, Santa Claus, named Papa Noel, arrives in his red suit and black boots to spread joy among children.

Brazil as a whole celebrates Christmas with verve and tradition, their own and those adapted from other countries, including lighted Christmas trees and angels, Papa Noel, stars and other decorations such as fresh flowers. Fireworks add color to the nighttime sky.

In Salvador, the entire city gets into the festivities. The historical center is decorated with lights and given over to the celebration of the season. There are musical events, concerts, dances, shows and exhibitions, plus many events for children, including Los Pastores, a Christmas play in which shepherdesses rather than shephers play an important role.

The religious nature of the season is also remembered with processions honoring the birth of Jesus Christ and the Annunciation, when Mary was told she was to bear a son. There is also a Christmas float and a Christmas supper, called Ceia de Natal echoed in many Brazilian homes as a time for family gatherings and celebrations. The meal might include turkey, ham, colored rice, vegetable and fruit dishes.

All of these events take time, and in Salvador, the Christmas season begins weeks early and continues through Christmas Day. The highlight of each day is the sound and light show in the Praça de Sé which tells the story of the Nativity. The manger, or presepio, is a showpiece, as it is in many Brazilian homes and communities.

Many Brazilians attend the Midnight Mass called Missa do Galo which ends at one am, Christmas Day. Others attend Christmas Day Mass in the afternoon, after sleeping in or spending time with friends and family.

No matter where you are in Brazil, Boas Festas e Feliz Ano Nova!

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