Saturday, July 5, 2014

Fireworks on the Fourth of Brazil

Yesterday was the 238th anniversary of the birth of my country.  It was also the 12th time in our 18 years of marriage that Josh and I celebrated the Fourth of July outside of the United States.  

During my childhood, American Independence Day meant red-and-white-striped fireworks tents set up around my little Tennessee town offering a tempting array of booms, cracks, and sparkles.  It meant day-long picnics with my dad's side of the family, held for many years at a local state park and later at our family's mountain cabin.  It meant that for one glorious summer day, my dad would be with us all day instead of working from dawn until dusk at H&D Feed Mill, the feed and farm supply business he owned with his father and another partner.  

The first time Josh and I missed July 4th in the US was 1996.  We were in Okinawa, Japan, for our first Let's Start Talking mission project together.  We celebrated with our team after a long day of English classes by hauling boiled hot dogs, Asian potato chips, and tiny Japanese cans of Coca-Cola up a ladder for a picnic on the roof of the church.  From there we had a great view of the fireworks at the US Air Force base a few miles away.  That Fourth of July remains one of the most memorable of our marriage.

In the years that followed, we celebrated again in Japan and then in Thailand, Fiji, Malaysia, England, Brazil, and Italy.  Sometimes, I admit, the holiday slipped by us virtually unnoticed since, of course, in other countries it's just another day in July.  If we are working at a mission site, we don't take the day off.  Perhaps we'll say at some point during our work day, "Oh yeah!  It's the Fourth of July!" but that's about the extent of it.

It was Knox, however, who illustrated to me this year just how rarely we have had the traditional American celebration of our nation's birth.  Two days ago, on July 3, one of my Brazilian readers said to me, "Tomorrow is American Independence Day, right?  Happy Fourth of July!"  Knox was standing there and looked at me, puzzled.  

"What's the Fourth of July?" he asked.  He is seven.  We have only been in the US for The Fourth twice during his lifetime. One of those times, he was 10 months old; the other time he was 2.  I think I remember placing a sparkler in his chubby toddler hand while we celebrated in our front yard, but I doubt he remembers it.

This year we were Patriots in Pipa, a tiny beach village in northeastern Brazil. Except I wasn't wearing red, white, and blue.  I was decked out in yellow and green - the colors of the Brazilian National Futbol Team.  

             I'm wearing my Brazilian jersey just before the game.  Behind me, fans watch the pre-game commentary in a bar.

Yesterday Brazil played Colombia in the quarterfinals of the World Cup.  The game was played in Fortaleza, Brazil, just 300 miles north of where we were staying on our off day.  Brazil's government has declared a national holiday for every day that Brazil plays in the World Cup, so game days are one huge party here.  We wanted to get in on the fun!

One of the most exciting moments was when the Brazilian National Anthem was played before the game.  We were walking down the street, when all around us the people began singing.  Talk about patriotism!  Here is a link to the video we took of the scene.

After the anthem, we made our way to a fabulous Italian restaurant where we requested a table with a view of the TV.  The strangers around us became friends as we cheered and hooted for Brazil, even though our family's understanding of soccer is all but nil.  After each Brazilian goal and at the end of the game, Cherry Bombs and bottle rockets exploded in the streets.  Here is a short video we took after the game was over.  

So once again this year, Knox had a non-traditional American Independence Day.  But at least this year he heard some fireworks!


  1. Boiled hot dogs? I'm having a hard time picturing the Boyds eating boiled hot dogs. Pretty sure cooking light has never done a boiled hot dog feature. (Also, I get more grossed out every time I type "boiled hot dog.") :)

  2. I know, right!!?? I intentionally chose that wording to highlight how very foreign the whole experience was for us. I didn't want anyone picturing yummy grilled ones. But after a month of rice and ramen, they were still an adequate approximation of a Fourth of July tradition!

  3. So glad to have found this. Your Brazilian "jersey" cracked me up...we both know why. :) And the truly authentic part of the national anthem video is the guy screaming cuss words in the background. Ahhh, Brazil...

    1. Oh no!!!! Seriously??? I just assumed he was screaming, "Go Brazil" or something!

      And my supermarket shirt IS made out of jersey fabric (wink, wink)!!! I just have to remember not to go shopping today for fear of being mistaken for an employee!