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Brazilian Holidays: A Guide to Brazil National Holidays 2020

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Traveling to Brazil and wanna know more about Brazilian holidays? You’ve come to the right place.

As a country with strong religious roots, most Brazil holidays are the same as in most western countries, which makes your life a tad easier while planning your trip.

And although a few Brazilian holidays are famous worldwide, such as Carnival, there are many other regional and not so famous regional celebrations that might affect your travel plans.

Unless you’re planning to party, of course.

Either way, you should be aware of the national holidays while traveling to the country because most attractions might be closed or even jam-packed with locals and international travelers enjoying the regional or public holidays in Brazil. (Portuguese: feriado público)

Brazil national holidays and observances

With so many peculiarities, I decided to write this article to explain how the major holidays in Brazil are celebrated.

But also, to talk about what you should expect when traveling to the country as well as to give you a national holiday calendar with major regional observances.

Holidays in Brazil: tips for traveling the country

  • Know what attractions you want to visit and if they will be open or not.
  • Keep in mind that public transportation might be operating at a lower frequency.
  • Avoid planning sightseeing during major holidays in Brazil, such as New Year’s Day, Carnival, and Christmas.

Important Brazilian holidays and observances

As said, Brazil is a vast country with distinctive regions; therefore, it’s reasonable to have local celebrations.

I’ll talk about the most important holidays and celebrations in Brazil below.

National holidays in January

New Year’s Day – January 1st

Brazilians celebrate the new year wearing white clothing or another color that represents a wish they have for the year that is just beginning.

That’s a national tradition that is taken very seriously by locals. These are each color’s meanings or what they portray.

  • White – peace
  • Silver – innovation
  • Yellow/golden – wealth
  • Red – passion
  • Pink – romance
  • Green – hope
  • Blue – serenity
  • Orange – creativity
  • Purple – spirituality

National holidays in February or March

Carnival (varying dates) – Somewhere between the end of February and beginning of March

This Brazilian holiday needs no introduction. Carnival, one of our passions, is the busiest and most awaited celebration in Brazil and for a good reason: the energy throughout the country is contagious.

Street parties happen all over Brazil, but they differ in style because each one of them represents local traditions and beliefs.

Although accommodation prices are higher during this period, Carnival is still a pretty good reason why tourists visit Brazil.

National holidays in April

Good Friday (varying dates)

Just like other western countries, Good Friday in Brazil happens on the Friday before Easter.

On this date, many families have lunch together, and plenty of them still prepare a codfish dish as a millennial Christian tradition.

However, it’s important to note that many of them also prepare it because the dish is delicious, not because they’re practicing their religion.

During Easter, bank offices are usually closed, subways operate for slightly shorter periods, shops are either closed or only open for half period, and bike lanes are open during working hours.

Easter (varying dates)

Again, like in other western countries, Easter in Brazil happens on the first Sunday after the full moon of the Spring, or in Brazil’s case, of the Fall.

Families usually gather in a hearty lunch followed by easter egg games for the children.

Tiradentes Day – April 21st

This Brazilian holiday pays homage to the execution anniversary of Joaquim José da Silva Xavier, a dentist known as Tiradentes.

He fought for Brazil’s independence from Portugal but was executed on April 21st, 1972.

For this reason, his actions were recognized as heroic. Years after Joaquim’s execution, this Brazil national holiday was created, and his hometown changed its name to celebrate this prominent historical figure.

Tiradentes is a beautiful colonial town.

Tiradentes town in Minas Gerais
Tiradentes is a Brazilian holiday and a lovely town in Minas Gerais

National holidays in May

Labor Day – May 1st

Labor Day is a calm holiday in Brazil. Establishments and shops have their opening hours changed as well as public transportation.

Most museums open on this day but be sure to check that on their websites.

Mother’s Day – Second Sunday of the month

On this day, families usually go eat out to celebrate the date.

Naturally, it’s much more a commercial date, just like Christmas. Either way, moms love receiving gifts.

National holidays in June

Corpus Christi (varying dates)

Around 60 days after Easter, Brazilians celebrate Corpus Christi. Well, by celebrating, I mean rest and enjoy the free day. There is not a real celebration.

It’s also important to note that this holiday in Brazil is a facultative day, meaning employers may choose if they give employees this free day or not.

National holidays in August

Father’s Day – Second Sunday of the month

Just like Mother’s Day, many families go eat out or have lunch together at home to celebrate the date.

Again, it’s much more a commercial date, just like Valentine’s and Christmas.

National holidays in September

Independence Day – September 7th

How does Brazil celebrate Independence Day? Well, on this day, many patriotic parades take place in most cities; however, the largest one happens in Brasília.

With about 4,500 members, the parades have children, students, civilians, and soldiers. But that’s not all. It also includes lots of cars, aircraft, and even helicopters. It’s a real parade.

In other cities, the events are on a smaller scale, of course, but beautiful nevertheless.

National holidays in October

Our Lady of Aparecida Day – October 12th

Many readers ask me, “Does Brazil have any special holidays?” and the Our Lady of Aparecida Day is the most significant one.

That’s because she is the patroness of Brazil. Legend has it that the statue was found by three fishermen who miraculously found loads of fish after praying for the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Hence, the name of the saint. Aparecida means the one who appeared in Portuguese.

Also, one of the reasons she quickly became adored by locals, especially Afro-Brazilians, is because she has dark skin.

And although many churches were dedicated to her, the most significant ones are the Brasília’s cathedral and the National Basilica. The latter is the world’s second-largest basilica.

The Cathedral of Brasilia is dedicated to Our Lady of Aparecida, a Brazilian holiday
The Cathedral of Brasilia is dedicated to Our Lady of Aparecida

National holidays in November

All Souls’ Day – November 2nd

The celebration of All Souls is vital for some religions, especially Catholics, as it pays tribute to all loved ones who have passed away.

On this date, cemeteries get crowded and filled with flowers as many people will stop by to say prayers in the graves of family or friends.

Republic Day – November 15th Brazilian national holiday

On this day in 1889, Marshal Deodoro da Fonseca declared Brazil a republic after a military coup d’ état to the Empire led by him.

The event took place in Rio de Janeiro, the capital of the country at the time.

Black Awareness Day – November 20th

This day is to celebrate and honor the black community about their great worth and contribution to the development of the Brazilian cultural identity.

November 20th was the chosen date because it honors Zumbi, a free African who was enslaved at the age of six.

He would later return to his homeland and be the leader of the Quilombo of Palmares, a settlement of fugitive slaves. Zumbi died on November 20th, 1695.

Although the date and symbology are beautiful, many Brazilians question the historical purpose of this date because Zumbi is said to have had slaves himself.

Over 1,000 municipalities consider it a national holiday, but not all.

National holidays in December

Christmas Day – December 25th

Yay, it’s Christmas in Brazil. Unlike the celebrations in the northern hemisphere, here in Brazil, it is always warm. Really warm.

The Christmas festivities in Brazil begin on December 24th, when the family gathers for a hearty Christmas feast and to exchange gifts as well as cards with beautiful messages.

Also, the streets are decorated with Xmas lights as well as the houses. And the expectation of Santa Klaus (Portuguese: Papai Noel) is huge among children.

Brazil holiday calendar

Brazil holidays 2020: Carnival, Corpus Christi, and Civil Servant Day are considered facultative holidays.

 
DateBrazilian HolidayTypeNotes
Jan 1 New Year’s DayFederal holidayFacultative half-holiday on December 31st (after 2 PM)
Jan 12Founding of Belém Regional holidayBelém City
Jan 20Saint Sebastian Regional holiday Rio de Janeiro City
Jan 22São Vicente AnniversaryRegional holidaySão Vicente City
Jan 25São Paulo AnniversaryRegional holidaySão Paulo City
Jan 26Santos AnniversaryRegional holidaySantos City
Feb 23-26CarnivalNot a public holidaySun-Wed until 12 PM – Facultative, but most people don’t work
Mar 8Women’s DayObservance
Apr 10Good FridayFederal holiday
Apr 19Indigenous People’s DayObservance
Apr 21Tiradentes’ DayFederal holiday
Apr 12EasterFederal holiday
Apr 22Brazil’s Discovery Observance
Apr 23Saint GeorgeRegional holidayRio de Janeiro State
May 1Labor DayFederal holiday
May 10Mother’s DayNot a public holiday
Jun 12Valentine’s DayObservanceSaint Antony’s Day
Jun 11Corpus ChristiNot a public holidayFacultative, but most people don’t work
Jun 24Saint John’s DayObservance
Jul 2Bahia Independence DayRegional holidayBahia State
Jul 8Sergipe Emancipation Day Regional holidaySergipe State
Jul 9 State Rebellion Day Regional holidayState of São Paulo Holiday
Aug 9Father’s DayNot a public holiday
Aug 15Our Lady of the Good VoyageRegional holidayBelo Horizonte City
Aug 22Folklore DayObservance
Aug 25 Soldier Day Observance
Aug 26Campo Grande EmancipationRegional holidayCampo Grande City
Sep 7Independence DayFederal holiday
Sep 8Our Lady of Light of PinhaisRegional holidayCuritiba City
Sep 20Ragamuffin WarRegional holidayGaúcho Day – Rio Grande do Sul State
Sep 21Tree DayObservance
Oct 3Uruaçu & Cunhaú Martyrs’ DayRegional holidayRio Grande do Norte State
Oct 11Mato Grosso do Sul CreationRegional holidayMato Grosso do Sul State
Oct 12Our Lady of Aparecida DayFederal holiday
Oct 12 Children’s DayObservance
Oct 15Teacher’s DayObservance
Oct 24Goiânia AnniversaryRegional holidayGoiânia City
Oct 28Civil Servants’ Day Bank holidayFacultative, but only applies to government and banks
Oct 31HalloweenObservance
Nov 2All Souls’ DayFederal holiday
Nov 15Republic DayFederal holiday
Nov 20Black Awareness DayRegional holidayAL, AM, AP, MG, RJ, MA, SP
Nov 21Our Lady of Apresentação DayRegional holidayNatal City
Nov 27Black FridayObservance
Dec 8Our Lady of ConceiçãoRegional holidayManaus, Salvador, Campo Grande, Belo Horizonte, Belém, João Pessoa, Recife, Teresina, Aracaju, Boa Vista, and RJ
Dec 19Paraná State EmancipationRegional holidayParaná State
Dec 25Brazil Christ DayFederal holidayFacultative half-holiday on December 24th (after 2 PM)

Note: Facultative day is a type of holiday exclusive of Brazil. It means it’s up to employers whether they allow employees to take this day.

Brazilian holidays FAQ

What are the major holidays in Brazil?

  • New Years Day
  • Easter
  • Tiradentes
  • Labor Day
  • Independence Day
  • Our Lady of Aparecida Day
  • All Souls’ Day
  • Republic Day
  • Christmas

How many holidays does Brazil have?

Brazil has 12 national holidays, including those whose dates vary, and about 50 state holidays.

What Brazilian holidays have varying dates?

Carnival, Good Friday, and Corpus Christi.

Is Carnival a holiday in Brazil?

In theory, no. Carnival is not an official Brazilian holiday.

However, these are facultative days where employers can choose to give or not to their employees. Most do.

Do Brazilians celebrate Thanksgiving?

Not really. Although the date is known among locals, only a few protestant churches and North American descendants celebrate Thanksgiving in Brazil.

Also, we don’t celebrate Boxing Day in Brazil.

Brazil travel resources

I want your trip to Brazil to be unique. That’s why I’ve created several resources that, together with this Brazil holiday guide, will be handy while planning your vacation.

So after reading this article about the major Brazilian holidays, take a look at things you can do in the country.

Moreover, don’t miss my article on the most essential Brazil travel tips, which is an excellent resource for first-time visitors.

If this will be your first time in Brazil, check out my Brazil trip planning guide and the best vacation packages in Brazil.

For transportation, check out my guide to avoiding taxi scams in the country.

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