Samba de Roda, which involves festive music, dance and singing, was developed in the state of Bahia, in the region of the Recôncavo during the 17th century. It evolved from the dances, rhythms, and cultural traditions from different regions in Africa where enslaved Africans brought to Brazil were from. One of the defining characteristics of the dance is the gathering of participants in a circle (roda) while each one takies turns dancing in the center of the ring while the others clap their hands and sing. At first, a major component of regional popular culture among Afro-Bahians, the Samba de Roda was eventually taken by migrants to Rio de Janeiro, where it influenced the evolution of the urban samba that became a symbol of Brazilian national identity in the 20th century.
Yemanjá (sometimes spelled Iemanjá), also known as the “Rainha do Mar (Queen of the Sea)”, is a Yoruba deity. In the Candomblé religion, she represents the salt waters (ocean and sea). In Bahia, the biggest party for Yemanjá occurs on February 2, when thousands of people dress in white and go to the beach of Rio Vermelho singing, dancing, and depositing offerings such as baskets of flowers, mirrors, jewelry, food, perfumes, and other objects to receive blessings and prosperity for the year ahead. Offerings which do not return to shore are deemed accepted. Yemanjá is connected to the Christian Mary, Nossa Senhora dos Navegantes (Our Lady of Seafarers), whose Catholic feast day is on February 2.
The Malê Revolt, also known as The Great Revolt, is one of the most significant slave rebellions in Brazil. In the early morning hours on January 25, 1835, in the city of Salvador da Bahia, hundreds of black Muslim slaves and freedmen rose up against the city’s governing class. Muslims were called malê in Bahia at this time, from the Yoruba imale that designated a Yoruba Muslim. The uprising also took place on the feast day of Our Lady of Guidance (Nossa Senhora da Guia), one of the many celebrations of the Church of Bonfim at that time, and concurrently was also the 27th day of Ramadan. Consequently, the revolt was quickly suppressed in three hours and soon drastic, repressive measures began to be enacted against the Black community. Although it was not the end of resistance, this was the last known slave revolt in Brazil.
On January 20 many Brazilians celebrate the orixá Oxóssi (pronounced oh-SHAW-see) who manifests as vegetation and is represented by the forests that provide food for the world. He also represents the abundant harvest and prosperity. Oxóssi is characterized as a lone hunter with a bow and arrow and is an excellent tracker who is supplicated to find a path out of any difficult situation, a solution to any problem, or to achieve a targeted goal. His colors are green and sky blue, and offerings for him are axoxó (red corn with coconut), various fruits, roasted black eye peas. He is also syncretized with the Catholic saints George and Sebastian.