Days of National Festivity in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 1823-1889

By Hendrik Kraay | Go to book overview

CHAPTER FOUR
Official Festivities and Politics, 1841–1864

With Pedro II duly crowned as of July 1841, official celebrations on days of national festivity settled into a modest routine for most of the rest of the decade. To be sure, critics occasionally raised questions about the course of the Brazilian state, but this fell far short of the Exaltado challenge of the early 1830s discussed in Chapter Two. A brief surge of radical liberal activism in 1848–49 did not reverse the long-term trend toward outwardly consensual official festivities, sometimes quite elaborate, but not particularly controversial until the early 1860s. In 1848, with almost no debate, parliament cut the number of days of national festivity from seven to the three that would endure until the end of the monarchy (25 March, 7 September, and 2 December). This reduction, however, turned the remaining days of national festivity into a more coherent monarchical story about the Brazilian empire’s creation and effectively ratified the practice of the previous decades, in which these three had emerged as the principal days of national festivity.

Two important exceptions to the pattern of perfunctory ritual stand out. Considerably more effort went into celebrating the important, but occasional, events that that marked the imperial family’s life—the weddings of Emperor Pedro II and his sisters in 1843–44 and the baptisms of Pedro and Teresa Cristina’s four children in 1845–48—and Pedro’s return to the capital after a journey to the South in 1846. These were, in effect, echoes of the coronation festivities, and they presented much the same monarchical message. Late in the decade came another round of politicization of civic ritual, closely connected to the September 1848 ministerial change that brought to power a long-lived Conservative or Saquarema ministry and put an end to several years of Liberal rule. Once again, partisan rhetoric flourished around days of national festivity, but the radicals had less success in putting people in the streets to gain control of the civic ritual space than they had had in 1830, nor did

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