What is Corpus Christi and how do Brazilians celebrate it? From food to ceremonies to parades, learn why this celebration is so popular in Brazil and how you can take part if you’re planning a trip.
Also known as the Feast of the Most Holy Body of Christ, or the Day of Wreaths, Corpus Christi is a Christian feast to honor the Holy Eucharist. This year, it takes place on Thursday, May 31. It varies widely every year. For example, in 2019, it will take place on Thursday, June 20.
It happens to be one of the largest and most significant festivals of the Catholic Church globally – and Brazil has one of the biggest celebrations of all. The celebration involves honoring the body and blood of Christ, originating from Jesus’ own words on Holy Thursday at the Last Supper: “This is my body and this is my blood.” It corresponds to both bread, symbolizing his body, and wine, symbolizing his blood.
Today, Catholics acknowledge the gift of the Eucharist because they believe God is the food of the soul. It was first celebrated in 1193, but was officially established as a feast in 1264 by Pope Urban IV to do three main things:
• Honor Jesus Christ
• Ask for forgiveness
• Protest those who deny the presence of God
The most elaborate and beautiful Corpus Christi festivities happen in the small and historic towns in Brazil. Usually Mass is enjoyed first, followed by a procession featuring colorful rugs and carpets with unique materials made to resemble Jesus, the cup of wine and the bread. Vibrant sawdust carpets are intricate and ornate, with beautiful patterns and designs revered by all.
In Brazil’s Ibitinga, they decorate the streets with materials made by embroidery factories within the city. In the historic city of Ouro Preto, Minas Gerais “item” processions take place. Matão, in São Paulo, is also famous for its unique processions. People gather for the March for Jesus, considered to be the most popular Christian event on the planet. For example, in 2015, more than 500,000 people gathered to celebrate Corpus Christi.
Traditions are different in various places. Many regions in Central Europe adorn their homes and fields with ornate bouquets of flowers and wreaths. In Berga, Spain, people dance during the Patum in this Catalan village, whereby townspeople dress up as mystical and symbolical figures and dance to drum beats.
If you are planning a trip to Brazil, or would like to, you should first learn the language of Brazilian Portuguese. Here at BRIC Language Systems, we offer both one-on-one and group lessons that put you in touch with native Portuguese speaking teachers from Brazil during live face-to-face lessons. Call us today to learn more at 888-441-6438 or fill out our online form.