Tiradentes – How to Wangle Two Independence Days

watercolour Ipê amarelo

Tiradentes, a quaint town hidden in Minas Gerais that has everything to do with Brazilian Independence Day. A guide and a few tips on how exactly to wangle an extra national holiday.

The Yankees got one. The Frenchies got one. Even the Russians got one.

We’re talking a blood-spurting revolution to march into the era of “modernity”. Brazil, however, did not jump on the band wagon. Despite the belief that violence lies in every corner of Brazil, their independence from the Portuguese was remarkably pacific.

It involved the heir to the Portuguese throne, Dom Pedro I, declaring Brazil’s independence in 1822. He then eventually headed back to rule Portugal when his father the king of Portugal died. Thus, he named his 5 year old son, Dom Pedro II (of course) Emperor of Brazil.

Pronouncing his family’s Brazilianess forever more. 

A blissful uprising that embodies the equally frustrating and admirable laid-back attitude of Brazilians. But hold your horses, did we just miss out on the chance of a national holiday?

Did Someone Say two Independence Days?

Independence Day number 1: the day Dom Pedro exclaimed independence from Portugal (basically his dad) and everyone applauded the civility of the Brazilians. 

Independence Day number 2: a failed uprising against the oppressive Portuguese that ended with a bloody massacre of one dentist. 

That’s what we’re talking about Brazil. National holiday deprived Anglo-Saxon countries listen up!

How to wrangle yourself another national holiday … by Brazil.

Tiradentes and the Plot 

Let’s rewind to the State of Minas Gerais in the 1780s when Joaquim José da Silva Xavier leads a group called  Inconfidência Mineira – Mineira’s distrust. A winning name I say. 

Since Joaquim’s full name is a bit of a mouthful, he’s known in Brazil only by his profession, a dentist. In Portuguese the original word for dentist was literally “tooth-puller.”

‘Tira’ = to pull or remove and ‘dentes’ = teeth.

Indeed, at the time all a dentist could do was literally pull out teeth.


Tiradentes shall be your name, you plotting rascal. 

The Inconfidência Mineira group was disappointed because they perceived, rightfully, that the Portuguese crown was abusing their colony, Brazil. The yearly taxes on gold were due, but year after year the mines were popping out dismal quantities of gold. The mines were beginning to run dry.  Therefore, the plan was to overthrow the crown and declare the state of Minas Gerais, the location of nearly all the gold and diamonds, as an independent country.  

A Martyr

Surprise surprise, Tiradentes and his distrustful gang were betrayed. One member of the distrust troop, was more distrustful than the others. Covering his back he betrayed the gang in exchange for a years exception of paying those notorious gold taxes.

Tiradentes took all the blame. They hung him, then cut into teeny pieces that were thread onto spikes every few kilometers between Minas Gerais and Rio de Janeiro, the capital at the time. A gruesome reminder not to mess with the Portuguese. 

On 21st April, 1792 Tiradentes was executed for plotting treason against the crown. Over 200 hundred years later, after fervently scouring the history books, the Brazilians declared this day their “bloody” opposition against the Portuguese crown.

Another national holiday hits the books. 

Not to mention that they still have a third national holiday. The day they replaced, also in a largely peaceful fashion, the Empire for the Republic in 1889.

Now Brazil has to celebrate three national liberation dates, which are in the end great occasions to explore some of the beaches on its tropical coastline of more than 4,500 miles.


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