On September 7, 1822, Brazil achieved its independence from Portugal. To honor the day, for the past quarter century New York has celebrated with an enormous street fair known as the Brazilian Day Festival.
Held the the first Sunday in September, the event is billed as the world’s largest and most important Brazilian event abroad. Many expatriates come from other cities and states, some chartering special buses for the occasion.
Popular music and television stars are flown in from Brazil to perform on a temporary stage set up in the middle of 6th Avenue. The crowd is so large that few can get near the stage, so the show is simulcast on an enormous JumboTron screen.
The celebration is centered around 43rd Street and 6th Avenue, an area known as “Little Brazil.” While the city doesn’t contain a distinctly Brazilian neighborhood or shopping district — in fact, Brazilian residents refer to themselves as “an invisible community” — this block is known for its concentration of Brazilian businesses and social events and Portugese is widely spoken.
Exuberent revelers drape themselves in yellow, green and blue (the colors of the Brazilian flag), flock to the vendors selling all manner of Brazilian goods and services, including music, videos, and fragrant delicacies such as pasteles (meat or cheese-stuffed dough), coxinha (deep-fried chicken pastries), feijoada (meat and bean stew) and churrasco (grilled meat).
Happy, relaxed and easy-going, they fill the restaurants and cafes to overflowing, gulp down caipirinhas (Brazilian margaritas) and doing their finest capoeira, batuque and samba moves, they dance, dance, dance the day away.
Official Brazilian Day Web site
New York Brazil Group
Brazzil Magazine: Brazil’s Biggest Street Party Overseas
Brazzil: The Invisible Brazilians