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In this city that is deeply connected to Africa and in a country that is very religious, residents cherish the opportunity to connect with their spiritual ancestors. 

And let’s be honest, they are always looking for a reason to party, as well.

December 8th is the day of Nossa Senhora da Conceição, or the immaculate conception. The Portuguese brought this Roman Catholic holiday to its former colony of Brazil. And while it is not an official holiday in Brazil, it is commemorated here.

In the northeast of Brazil, where the Candomblé religion is synchronized with catholicism, December 8 is also the Dia de Oxum — the goddess of love, motherhood, and maternity.

How to Celebrate in Salvador

The main celebration in Salvador takes place at the basilica Nossa Senhora da Conceição da Praia. This mainstay of the city, having just celebrated 470 years, is located in the lower city (Cidade Baixa) close to the Elevador Lecerda.

On this special day, church services run throughout the day. The first service starts at 5am, and they go through the afternoon. Likewise, the crowds start early in the day, and taper off as the day goes on. 

Itapuã, at the square of Dorival Caymmi, also has a commemoration ceremony, as do other neighborhoods throughout the city.

Unlike the Festa de Santa Bárbara, this is a day primarily for the catholic faithful. You aren’t going to find a lot of people going just for the sake of going. I like passing by for just a short period of time just to observe.

Key Planning Tips

  • Wear yellow or white. Yellow is the primary color for Oxum and white is traditional religious attire for the followers of all faiths here. Most festival goers dress accordingly.
  • Go early. Get there by mid-or-late morning. By mid-afternoon the crowds have largely dispersed and the remaining street revelers can be unpleasant to deal with.
  • Watch your stuff. Wherever there are lots of people crowded together there are pickpockets. I’m a huge fan of Stashbandz to hold my phone, keys, and money. 

Foto: Elói Corrêa/GOVBA

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