Why do people celebrate Halloween in Brazil?

Although Halloween in Brazil does not have nearly the same importance as in the Anglican tradition, this custom has been gaining supporters every year. It all started with some English schools in Brazil, where Halloween is one of the most important celebrations of the year. It was rather isolated and discrete in the beginning, but then the real push towards the popularization of the festivity was given by the industry. Nowadays, in the last week of October, many stores are decorated with pumpkins and dark colors and adorned with Halloween products – most of them from China or Taiwan, which is a sign of globalization and modern times as well.

The tradition of Halloween is new; however it is not so welcome. Trying to oppose the “American influence” the government proposed a bill establishing the Saci Day, which should be commemorated on October 31 as well. The initiative was strongly supported by artists, educators, politicians and a good portion of society. The idea was to honor the best known character of national folklore: the Saci. The also called Saci-pererê is a very popular figure and has its origins among the Indians in the missions in the south of Brazil. In some regions, the Saci appears as an evil being, in others, just as a playful and graceful creature. In the Northern region of Brazil, the African mythology transformed the Saci into a little black boy who is always smoking a pito (a kind of pipe) and has lost one of his legs in a Capoeira fight. This image prevails up to our days. The Europeans also contributed to the legend, so the Saci got a pileus: a little red cap used by the legendary troll (a small enchanted rebel creature in northern Portugal, especially the region of Tras-os-Montes, which wears red caps, possesses supernatural powers and makes mischief indoors, especially at night.

For most children and teenagers, however, discussions about the tradition of the day of 31th October are not relevant. Regardless of the origin of the festivity, the most important thing to do is to celebrate and leave the school routine (which at this time of year has already stressed most students). Halloween has become a day people look forward to, including students – not only in language courses, but also in ordinary schools, where English is a compulsory subject. The Day of Saci, in turn, is celebrated mainly among the youngest, for whom the Saci plays a magical and frightening role.

For most young people, as for many Brazilians, the more reasons you have to celebrate, the better.


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