If ringing in the New Year is about partying, then certainly the Parisians of the Belle Epoque could do it in a grand style. Champagne, foie gras, and waltzing with the semi-clad had to be a delight in which we hope some of your ancestors may have happily partaken.
We have had, however, the opportunity to experience new year festivities in a couple of other lands and we must say that the prize for partying goes not to the French, of any epoch, but to the Brazilians. The satin gowns, tails and fatty foods of France are not to be seen. Neither the uniquely arch form of cynicism that is so French. In Brazil, New Year's Eve is in the height of summer and everyone goes to the beach for a midnight pic-nick and swim. It is de rigueur that all be dressed entirely in white. Local custom derives from native and Afro-Brazilian religions resulting in a beautiful tradition of each person sending onto the waves at midnight a tiny boat with a lighted candle. The sight of thousands of small candles bobbing along the shore as everyone wishes one another a happy new year is simply beautiful. Cynicism is replaced by a rather nostalgic charm.
Then, of course, everyone now blows off a load of fireworks. The old year dies. Eventually, all of the celebrants die, which brings us to our little genealogical find: Brazilians with French ties. Though this blog is in English, just this once, eu gostaria de dar uma coisa por meus amigos brasileiros, and for any of you who may have French ancestors by way of Brazil.
There are, scattered about France and particularly in Paris, records relating to Brazilians. The above is a formal faire-part, printed and sent to acquaintances in France informing them of the death in Rio of the Marquis of Paranaguã, (Paranaguã is a port city to the south of São Paulo). Below is an announcement of a Requiem Mass to be held for the Emperor Dom Pedro II in 1891.
In addition, there are many Brazilians buried in the cemetery of Père Lachaise in Paris:
- Francisco de Souza Coutinho, marquis of Maceyo
- Joaquim d'Oliveira Alvares, a marshal of the Brazilian army (near to the grave of Manoel do Nascimento, the Portuguese poet)
- Commander Marcellino Gonçalves
- Comander Jose Ferreira dos Santos
- Dr. Jose-Joaquim de Moraes-Sarmento
Should you find yourself alone tonight, read some of Comte and Kardec, crack open a bottle of the best French bubbly, light a candle near the water and have a very happy start to 2013.
Feliz Ano Novo!
©2012 Anne Morddel