After an extended weekend, I heard a carioca friend say that someone famous once said, “o Brasil é um feriado”. I looked it up and translated it for you.
“My friend, Brazilians have a holiday-like soul. I imagine the irritation of the idiots of objectivity. They will say: “it does not exist, and it never existed.” The reader, even without being a idiot of objectivity, may want an explanation. Let’s get to it.
Two or three years ago, there was an extended holiday weekend. It started on Friday, continued on through Saturday and Sunday and ended on Monday. Such a barrage of days off is the great utopia of our brother, the Brazilian. Never did the charming souls on the street corners and in the pubs have such joie de vivre. On the streets, as the poet says, men were divine and human and women, fresh as roses. According, however, to my fat and playful neighbor, “there is no good that lasts forever, nor evil that never ends.” On Tuesday, the so-called business days resumed. (A volta ao batente é, para o brasileiro, uma dessas melancolias, só comparáveis às de Jó. – Not entirely sure how to translate this line in the best manner.)
But I thought to myself, “we had four days off.” At ten in the morning, I’m on the sidewalk. An interesting thing, indeed. Suddenly I was hit with remorse or shame because, for four long and dilated days, I had forgotten Brazil. But as I was saying, I hailed a taxi and went around town. And now I expected to see the beach had become a desert. Yes, a desert of navels. When the taxi turned onto the street along the beach, I suffered, in the flesh and soul, the greatest astonishment of my life.
The beach was awash with Brazilians. Never seen so many idle navels. After four days off, more people than ever were sunbathing. To myself, I asked the alarming question: “if Brazilians do not leave the beach, how does Brazil keep functioning?”. Before turning onto Princesa Isabel Avenue, I discovered this final and eternal truth: – BRAZILIANS HAVE A HOLIDAY-LIKE SOUL. Or rather: – a Sunday-like one. We are like Sunday, par excellence.”
O Globo, 2/5/1975