April 3, 2010

Faricoccos in Cidade de Goiás – A spectacular procession

On the Wednesday of Holy Week at 11:59pm, the city of Goiás hosts the re-enactment of the night Jesus Christ was pursued by the Romans. Forty men dress up in colorful robes and hoods, carry torches and walk barefoot in a spectacular procession through the city.

The idea of wearing colorful robes and hoods was brought to the city of Goiás by a Spanish priest, João Perestrello de Vasconcelos Spinola, in 1745. Thus, the farricocos and the Fogaréu Procession precede the Ku Klux Klan by more than a century. Nevertheless, their outfits are unfortunately quite similar to those worn by the KKK.

Cidade Goiás (also known as Goiás Velho) is usually a very quiet and peaceful city. However, during Holy Week, the city fills with tourists who come to witness one of the oldest processions in Brazil. On Wednesday evening, we took our daughters - Tatiana, Soraya, and Raymi – to the Plaza Coreto to see all of the excitement.

When we arrived at the Plaza Coreto at dusk, vendors were setting up a market on the street, the plaza was filled with tables full of people drinking beer and soda and eating ice cream. I sat down with the girls to have a drink. Soon, however, they insisted on going to the market.

We saw a vendor selling miniature black and white farricoco puppets. The girls asked for one. It seemed like a decent idea for a toy and a souvenir for the evening, but I suggested that they purchase the black ones. I didn’t want the girls to purchase a little KKK puppet. Tatiana and Soraya – my nine year old twins - each bought black ones. Raymi – my six year old daughter - spent some time trying to decide what she wanted. When she finally decided she wanted a puppet as well, there were only white ones left. That is how Raymi got her own little KKK farricoco puppet. I thought to myself – at least the eyes light up red so that it seems more like the representation of a devil.

It turns out that the symbolism of the farricocos is actually quite sinister. They, after all, are the bad guys in the story as they are the ones hunting down Jesus to crucify him.

That evening, the girls played in the plaza with their puppets for a while. Eventually, however, they got tired and we made our way home. I had my doubts that the kids would make it until midnight to watch the procession. And, they didn’t. They all fell sound asleep around 10pm.

My husband, Fernando, and I left the house around 11pm and went again to Plaza Coreto. This time, the Plaza was completely full of people. We had a drink in one of the bars and decided to make our way back to the Igreja do Rosario. The procession begins at Plaza Coreto, but this is not the best place to see it. The Plaza is too full of people and it is hard to see the procession with all of the multitude.

The procession goes from the Plaza Coreto down to the bridge over the Rio Vermelho and pauses at the Igreja do Rosario for a bit before returning to the Plaza Coreto. Fernando and I made our way back to the Igreja do Rosario and waited for the procession.

Around 12:30am, it arrived. It was quite a site to see. Dozens of robed men carrying torches followed by hundred of people also carrying torches walked up the hill to the Igreja do Rosario. The farricocos stopped on the church steps where there was a brief presentation where the M.C. asked them who they were looking for and they responded “Jesus Christ.” The rows of men in colorful robes and hoods holding their torches was spectacular to witness.

From the Igreja do Rosario, the procession made its way down our street. We stood in our doorway on Rua Senador Eugenio de Jardim and watched the procession again from there. This time, we had the best view and watched the farricocos and then all of the people with torches walk by. By that time, it was after 1am, and we went inside to rest.


  1. Thanks for posting this! I swear, syou could write a couple books just on this town! I'm very interested in visual culture, and so the parallels between the US KKK uniforms and that of the fariccos, given the latter's history, are rather uncanny. Have the fariccos' costumes remained the same over time, or have they changed? That they are still the "bad guys" makes me wonder how many other celebrations around the world use similarly styled costumes, and whether by those who represent "evil" in some way? Hmmm...

  2. Gelede: I think the origins of this festival are in Portugal - although the costumes are black there. It seems to me that they have always been colorful in Brazil - so the tradition changed when it was introduced here. Needless to say, I was shocked when I first saw an image of a farricoco.