On November 25, the symbolic character of the Baiana is celebrated as part of the Mês da Consciência Negra (Black Consciousness Month). Celebrations take place with a mass at the church Nossa Senhora do Rosário dos Pretos (Our Lady of the Rosary of the Blacks), in Pelourinho, followed by a dance of samba de roda, and typical Bahian food.
November 20 is known as Dia da Consciência Negra (Day of Black Consciousness or Black Awareness Day) in Brazil. On this day, Brazilians recognize the efforts towards equality of the Movimento Negro (Black Movement) and celebrate black resistance and liberation by honoring Zumbi dos Palmares, a national hero.
Zumbi dos Palmares was a warrior and leader of anti-slavery resistance. Zumbi was born in 1655 in one of the quilombo settlements of Palmares in Pernambuco, Brazil. He was captured as a boy by soldiers and given to Father Antonio Melo who baptized him with the name ‘Francisco”. At the age of fifteen, Zumbi escaped and returned to the Palmares where he became one of the community’s most famous leaders and their last.
Also called Angola Janga (Angola Small) by those that lived there, Palmares was established as a shelter not only blacks, but also of poor whites, Indians and mestizos extorted by the colonizer. Palmares was like the Promised Land, and Zumbi, was regarded as eternal and immortal, and was recognized as a loyal and brave protector.
Zumbi was an extraordinary and talented military leader along with his wife, Dandara, who was also a fighter and defender of anti-slavery liberation in her own right, and leader of the female arm of the Palmares army, while helping to take care of sick children, the elderly, those injured by slavemasters. In 1694, a Portuguese army of 9,000 men began an undertaking that would lead to defeat Macaco, the main town of Palmares. Zumbi was found killed on November 20, 1695.
For years, Palmares was defended by Zumbi and Dandara against the military expeditions which intended to bring runaway slaves back into slavery. The Day of Black Consciousness is celebrated on November 20 in Brazil and is dedicated to reflection on the inclusion of blacks in Brazilian society. The date was chosen to coincide with the day of the death of Zumbi dos Palmares, in 1695.
Throughout its history, Ilê Aiyê has been honoring African countries and Afro-Brazilian uprisings which has contributed strongly to the process of ethnic identity and the cultural self-esteem of black people. With its 3,000 members, Ilê Aiyê today is the heritage of Bahian culture, a milestone in the process of re-Africanization of the Bahia Carnival.
The musical rhythmic movement, invented in the 70s by Ilê Aiyê, was responsible for the revolution of the Bahian carnival which continues to develop and represent new rhythms derived from African traditions.
To promote political and educational consciousness, Ilê Aiyê does so through thematic selection of dance, gestures, language codes that transmits the African ancestry of the past with the historical and social context of blacks enslaved in Brazil, and then with the everyday Afro-Bahian of today, in addition to working in the pan-African universality of the Afro-descendant.
Ilê Aiyê also expresses the evolution of black/African renaissance and African American movements (adapted to the Bahian reality) focusing on the relationship and identification between black people from anywhere in the world, always emphasizing their common ancestral origin.
The video below brings together 40 years of carnival images of Queens of Ilê who represent the celebration of black beauty.
O Dia de Finados, or Dia dos Mortos (also known as the Roman Catholic, All Souls Day), is celebrated as a national holiday every year on November 2. In Brazil, Finados is considered a national holiday. The day is meant to honor loved ones who have died. Many Brazilians will visit the cemeteries where they will leave offerings of flowers and light candles for their loved ones. Some also sing hymns and pray for the souls of the dearly departed. Others use the day to hold a cookout and invite friends and family over for gathering.
Unlike in Mexico’s Dia de los Muertos, Dia de Finados in Brazil, is not celebrated as a party. Finados is a somber day to pray for the dead. The idea is to remember and celebrate the life of loved ones.
In Candomblé houses, Omolú is the orixá that ushers those passing from life to death. He also is the owner of the cemetery and is sometimes propitiated on this day.