The History of Brazil’s Independence Day

Brazil became an independent country from Portugal on September 7, 1822. Since then, Brazilians celebrate this day with great fanfare: parades, festivals, carnivals and events mark the occasion. It’s a joyful day, after all. On that day in 1822, the son of Portugal’s then-king, Prince Pedro, declared from the banks of the Ipiranga River that Brazil was free from Portuguese reign. He was well loved by his people. Donning the Portuguese symbol on his uniform, he is believed to have yelled “By my blood, by my honor, and by God: I will make Brazil free.”

He soon became the Emperor of Brazil and banished Portuguese forces from his country. This marked the end of 322 years of colonial dominance. Brazil was first discovered and ruled by the Portuguese back in the 16th century. Other nations (France was one of them) tried to gain control but met with no success. King Dom João VI had been living in Brazil since 1808, making this the Kingdoms of the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and Algarves.

His son Dom Pedro was named Constitutional Emperor and Perpetual Defender of Brazil in October of 1822. It was because of his efforts that independence for Brazil was won. His allegiance eventually shifted from the Cortes (Constituent Assembly) to the Brazilian cause. More than 6,000 casualties of war were reported by the time an official treaty declaring sovereignty was formally established three years later. The Brazilian empire spanned from 1822 until 1889, when it was overthrown by military leaders. Although Brazil became a republic and not a monarchy in 1889, it still embraces the September 7th date proudly as its Independence Day. Like America’s July 4th, there are many celebrations, fireworks, parades and celebrations to mark this day.

In the capital of Brazil – Brasilia — citizens and visitors alike celebrate at the Ministries Esplanade complete with a military parade overseen by the President of Brazil as well as other political leaders. As a side note, Rio de Janeiro had been the capital of Portugal from 1808 until 1822. It is still mistaken by outsiders as the capital of Brazil.

Apart from emergency service workers, the people of Brazil are given this day off every year to participate in outings, picnics and other outdoor events. It’s not uncommon to see street parades with flags, concerts, air shows, banners, streamers and balloons. How do YOU celebrate Brazil’s Independence? When visiting Brazil during this time, jump in on the local festivities and act as the locals do. Learn more about the customs and history through BRIC Language Systems, where you can learn the nuances of the Brazilian Portuguese language.