Dancing for Jesus in Brazil | Advent Around the World

Mariela Torroba Hennigan

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Photo credit: Pastoril do Céu na Terra on Wikimedia Commons, used under the terms of license CC BY 2.5
One Advent tradition that is unique to Brazilian culture is the pastoril performances. The pastoril (or pastoral, in English) happens during the Christmas season and combines music, dance, and theatre to portray the birth of Jesus. This artistic and folkloric performance is native to the Brazilian northeast, particularly in the states of Pernambuco, Paraíba, Rio Grande do Norte, and Alagoas. The pastoril originated in Portugal and dates back to the 8th century.
Among many unique characters such as the Butterfly and the Ox, the key feature of the pastoril are the lady shepherds. These groups are the cordão azul (blue cord) and the cordão encarnado (incarnate cord), and their difference lies in the blue and red colour of their clothes, respectively. Since the pastoril is a sing-along dance, each cordão sings and dances to present themselves to the audience as the birth of Jesus unfolds within the performance.
My favourite aspect of the pastoril is that it is not only a communal and creative celebration of Jesus’ birth, but it is also a very joyous expression of our culture.
To see an example of a pastoril dance, watch the video below!

Mariela Torroba Hennigan is an international student at the University of Toronto.


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