Jan 16, 2011

The Holidays in Rio

It was really interesting spending Christmas and New Year´s Eve here. If I could describe the holidays in one word it would be BIG.

Things that were BIG here from Dec. 1 – Jan. 6th:

1)      The World´s Largest Floating Christmas Tree
On Dec. 4th I witnessed the lighting of the World´s Largest Floating Christmas Tree. It was quite a spectacle. Fireworks came out from inside. For the month of December the tree floated around the large lake in the middle of the city (controlled by a guy who would live in there). And the lights of the trees would change from different designs: bells, angels, presents, candles etc.

2)      Nativity scenes contest
       Throughout the city in December, there was a contest for creating 3-D nativity scene sculptures. Some were very creative. My favourite was made entirely from plastic pop bottles.

3)      Shopping Mall Décor
I have never seen commercial Christmas decorations like this before. Giant santas, sleighs, cone-shaped Christmas trees, big flashing lights. All bigger than I am used to at home. And the malls had your typical ``pictures with Santa`` areas.

Christmas decorations inside the Shopping Leblon mall.
4)      Christmas Concert on Copacabana
Roberto Carlos, ``the King`` here, gave a free performance on Copacabana Beach. Over 2 million attended.

5)      New Year´s Eve on Copacabana
There are many spectacular parties to end in Rio and the rest of Brazil for New Year´s. But the biggest is on Copacabana Beach. 2 million people were there. There were 4 stages of, each with several different acts set up on the beach.  At midnight, synchronized fireworks came from 6 different barges along the beach. The Summer Olympics logo was also released for the first time. The traditions are to wear white (for peace), to offer flowers to the sea for the Candomble godess Yemanja, and to jump 7 waves in the new year.

The crowd dressed in white on Copacabana Beach on New Year's Eve.
And on another BIG note. My family and I took a trip to Iguassu Falls. They are not the world´s tallest or the world´s widest falls, but many say that they are the World´s Most Spectacular Falls. They are composed of 275 waterfalls. They sit along the border of Argentina and Brazil. We went across to the Argentina side to see some of the falls from above, but the Brazilian side had a better view.

Iguassu Falls

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