Thursday, May 24, 2012

Happy Holiday!

Today is May 24th, which here in Goiânia is the day of "Nossa Senhora Auxiliadora," ["Mary Help of Christians"] the patron saint of Goiânia (which also happens to be the co-patron saint of Bagé and Niterói). This day is also referred to as, "another day off," by those who aren't quite sure what this day is about.

One of the cool things about living in Brazil is that there is always a holiday around the corner - or there was one just last week. If it's not a national holiday, it's a municipal holiday. Being a "predominately Catholic" country opens the door for even more "religious" holidays.

While Brazil boasts the largest number of Catholics in the world, Brazil also has the largest number of "lapsed Catholics" in the world. Of the Brazilian population, 68.4% are self-declared Catholics, yet only 20% of that cross section of the population attend Mass or participate in religious activities.

Some sociologists of religion contend that Catholicism in Brazil is more of a tradition, than a true practice of religion. The most commonly seen traditions are infant baptisms, appointed godparents, traditional church weddings, the use of religious necklaces (and/or other paraphernalia such as ornamental car accessories, etc.) and the ever popular act of crossing oneself (which you must have seen if you've ever watched a soccer game).

Although quite a few of these religious holidays translate into a day off (or two, if it falls on a Thursday) there are few who actually use that time for religious purposes. The majority of the population use the time off to party late into the night, travel, bar-b-que, or just catch up on R&R.

In my case, I used the time to surf the internet reading up on just why exactly it is that I have the day off, and looking for images of the perfect party cake. (Isn't the one below completely awesome? It seems like the ideal Unbirthday cake.)

Am I a big nerd? Do I not have a social life? Probably. But you see, I generally have to ask an average of 10+ people what the significance of a holiday is, and even if they do know the name, they might not be clear on the actual significance. I always feel a bit like I'm Jaywalking, and eventually somewhat like KiKi when she asks Bib,

"But what does it mean?"

And now we know. I dedicate my extra day off to you, the reader. No one will ever have to lose another May 24th in Goiânia, on research. As a reward, tomorrow I shall actually go out and do something.

All pics found on Google Images.

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