The 6th January is traditionally the day of disarranging the Christmas decoration – from the Advent wreath at the entrance’s door of the home to the Christmas tree. In many places in Brazil, however, the 6th is a day almost more special than Christmas itself: it is the Day of the Magi. In other and more Brazilian words, it’s the end of the so called Folia de Reis, a celebration of Portuguese origin, linked to the catholic celebrations of Christmas, brought to Brazil with the first settlers and still alive in the folklore events in many regions of the country.
Like the three Kings visited Jesus, festive groups go from house to house singing to the sound of guitar, accordion, ukulele, tambourine, reco-reco, extolling the divine Child, and going from door to door in search of offerings that vary from a plate of food to a cup of coffee. It’s known as the “band of merry kings” or “music riot of kings“. Besides the music, a little drama can be presented. The whole group is organized under the leadership of Captain of the Follies and follows the steps with reverence of the flag, serving traditional rituals.
The songs are always about religious subjects, except those played in traditional breaks for dinner, lunch or rest of the revelers, when they become lively festivities with singing of regional dances, as catira, moda de viola and cateretê. But unlike the three wise men, the purpose of the revelry is not to bring gifts but to get them from the owner of the house visited, normally for philanthropic purposes.
Although the tradition of Folia de Reis has varied over time by inserting components from different cultures into its repertoire, one component remains unchanged: the arrival´s song in which the leader (or Captain) asks to the owner of the house for permission to enter it, and the song of farewell – the time when the Folia group thanks for the donations received, and sets off for the next house.