Festa da Santa Bárbara
One of the most moving celebrations is held on December 4 in honor of the patron saint of markets and firefighters, Santa Bárbara. Due to her association with the fiery and feisty Iansã, devotees, in large part women (including many transsexuals), dress in red and white, the symbolic colors of the orixá.
There’s a mass in front of the Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Rosário dos Pretos in the Largo do Pelourinho, then a procession passes through the historic center, stopping at the main fire station and the Mercado de Santa Bárbara, where free cararu (made from more than 5,000 pieces okra) is distributed. Throughout the day and into the night, the streets resemble a dancing sea of red.
© Michael Sommers from Moon Brazil, 2nd Edition