The celebration of New Year in Brazil - and especially on the beaches of Rio de Janeiro - is a unique spectacle.
In Brazil, December 31 is the feast of Iemanjá, the Goddess of the Sea, and one of the most important of the macumba and candomblé deities. Devotees of Iemanjá start arriving on the beaches of Brazil in their thousands early on December 31.
By early afternoon Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro will be a living sea of people and glowing candles as the macumba rituals are played out. As the evening wears on, more and more people arrive to join in the celebrations and by midnight close to three million people, predominantly dressed in white, will be present on Copacabana.
The faithful offer gifts to Iemanjá and at a few seconds to midnight they lay their offerings on the seashore and, if all goes to plan, the waves will pluck their gifts up and drag them into the depths.
The New Year is greeted by a spectacular fireworks display with the 36 floor Méridien Copacabana turning itself into a gigantic Roman Candle. After midnight the city goes back to partying and the year’s first samba strikes up. New Year parties are held in the road, in oceanfront apartments, in all the beachfront hotels and on boats off Copacabana. By dawn many of the partygoers will still be on the beach to see the sun rise before going home or on to one of the hotels for breakfast.
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