Celebrate a Brazilian New Year’s Eve

Dust off your white suit or dress! New Year’s is approaching, and you better look the part if you are going to take part in this party of beautiful people. For Reveillon, people wear all white, everything.

Reveillon, which means an extravagant dinner or party in French, is the name of New Year’s celebrations in Brazil. The use of a French word to name an event with very Brazilian characteristics is a testament to Brazil’s international and cultural integration.

Brazilians, along with quite a few tourists, head to Brazil’s beaches for New Year’s Eve. In Rio de Janeiro, the most popular beach for Reveillon is Copacabana with more than 2 million people in attendance. The night is a huge, extravagant party with a crowd of exuberant revelers. The festivities usually start at about 8PM, with various musical acts, from electronic to samba to rock, playing live shows on the beach. At midnight the numerous barges loaded up with fireworks set off for an extended fireworks show. The light from the firecracker bursts flood the beach and sky.

Wealthier people and people who dislike crowds may partake in the festivities from the comfort of a posh, beachfront hotel, overlooking the crowds or on a boat which is anchored near the beach. Whether you decide to skip to crowds or join them, you’ll be sure to have a great time with lots of dance, music, food, drink, and opportunities to speak Brazilian Portuguese.

You will also notice a lot of rituals and spiritualism during the revelries. Think that fantastic white suit that you put on was just because Miami Vice was still popular in Brazil?

Well it’s actually somewhat similar to a woman’s wedding gown, in that the white represents purity. In addition the color also symbolizes peace and renewal, while also assuaging Iemanjá, the goddess and protector of the sea. Iemanjá is a goddess in the Candomblé religion, which is a religion that was developed in Brazil, which takes its roots from the African Yoruba religion. Iemanjá is called by various names as she’s represented in many African-based religions that were brought to the Americas on slave ships.

Just as much as the New Year’s Eve celebration is about a beach party, it’s also about making offerings to Iemanjá, the sea goddess. People will load small boats with their offerings to her. The offerings may include burning candles, pretty flowers, messages, perfume, etc., all with the hope that the new year will be better. After midnight, people will make seven wishes as they jump over seven waves!

This is one to add to that bucket list! Hell, stay a while and scratch off two with a trip to the World Cup as well.