Festival of the Divine Holy Spirit

Divine Holy Spirit, Festival of the (Festa do Divino)

May-June; around Pentecost (50 days after Easter)
Portuguese colonists brought their Pentecost celebration, the Festa do Divino, to Brazil in the 17th century. This religious festival is still celebrated today in many Brazilian cities. One of the most traditional celebrations takes place in Diamantina, Minas Gerais State. The week-long festivities include masses and fireworks, culminating in the "parade of the Emperor."
Festa do Divino celebrations can also be found in two of Brazil's most beautiful colonial-era towns: Alcântara, Maranhão State, and Paraty, Rio de Janeiro State. The townspeople dress up in colonial costumes, with many playing the roles of prominent figures from Brazilian history. The climax is a visit from the "Emperor," who arrives with his servants for a procession and mass at the church square. He frees prisoners from the town jail in a symbolic gesture of royal generosity, and strolling musicians known as Folias do Divino serenade the townspeople day and night.
The Feast of the Holy Ghost is celebrated by the fishermen living in and around TietÉ, São Paulo State, Brazil, and represents a tradition that began several centuries ago in Portugal to commemorate the Descent of the Holy Ghost upon the Apostles. On Pentecost all the fishermen dress in white with sashes and long stocking caps. Each carries an oar in one hand, and during the procession to the river, they form a double line facing each other. As they make an arch by crossing their oars, a dove, symbolic of the Holy Spirit, is carried beneath it on a ribbon-decorated crown.
The townspeople follow the fishermen and the musicians to the river's edge, where all the fishing canoes have been decorated with bunting for the occasion. The white-clad fishermen climb into their canoes, standing while holding their oars upright, and the current carries the floating regatta downstream. The event comes to a close in the parish church, where the men bring their oars to be blessed so they will have a plentiful catch in the coming year.
See also Holy Ghost, Feast of the
Brazilian Embassy
3006 Massachusetts Ave. N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008
202-238-2700; fax: 202-238-2827
FiestaTime-1965, p. 95
Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary, Fourth Edition. © 2010 by Omnigraphics, Inc.
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