Brazil's most popular New Year's Eve festivities are in Rio de Janeiro. Its night and beaches (not only is it summer, it's vacations time and the high season of Brazil) are with hundreds of thousands of people.
New Year's Eve is a rehearsal time for Carnival. Fireworks displays fill the night skies while hundreds of Filhas-de-Santo (priestesses of Brazilian's African religions) burn candles on the beaches and launch small wooden boats full of flowers and gifts to the tides, in honour of the Queen of the Seas (Iemanja). Every boat expresses a wish, that may be granted or not. If the tides carry the wooden boat with the gifts to the open sea, that means that the Saint has accepted the gift and will grant the gift-giver's wish. Otherwise, he won't.
Copacabana beach, at Rio de Janeiro, is the best place to enjoy these ceremonies and the fireworks displays, as well as the animation and the people's joy. Meanwhile, outside the beaches, hotels and club balls are crowded with the samba rhythms. Carnival is coming.
Salvador da Bahia New Year's Eve is different. Salvador does not celebrate the Iemanja festivities on the 1st January, but on August 15. On the New Year's Eve, Salvador da Bahia celebrates the Bom Jesus dos Navegantes (Seafarers Lord Jesus), a sea procession of thousands of flagged boats carrying a statue of Lord Jesus.
Salvador da Bahia is known for the high number of its festivities. There are permanent groups preparing all kinds of events.
Also very important in Brazilian calendar of festivities are (besides the Carnival):
- Blumenau Beer Festival
- Bonfim Feast, in Salvador da Bahia (mid-January)
- The June festivals (St Anthony, St John and St Peter's days) a little all over Brazil
- Religious Cirio da Nazare, in Belem, a city at the beginning of the Amazon river.