While most people conclude Christmas celebrations on December 25, some communities in Maranhão extend the festivities until Epiphany Day on January 6 through the traditional “Festa de Reisado.”
This folkloric manifestation, mainly present in the east, south, and southeast of the state, reenacts the visit of the Three Wise Men to the Baby Jesus. The celebration represents the annual journey of the Wise Men to the birthplace of Jesus and, in São Luís, it is known as “Reis,” being called “Reisado” in other regions.
The Reisado is a procession composed of two groups, with emphasis on the king and queen, and may include other characters such as the Wise Men, Shepherdesses, Angel, Star, Rich Queen, and Poor Queen. The European tradition of Reisados, with singers and dancers performing Christmas plays, was adapted in Brazil, incorporating unique elements. The groups, dressed in colorful clothes and hats, accompanied by a small orchestra, visit the houses of community members and participants, providing a festive and cultural experience.
The celebration reaches its peak on Epiphany Day, on January 6, when the Wise Men, according to Catholic tradition, would have arrived at the birthplace of Jesus. The Festa de Reisado, with its dances, music, and emblematic characters, is more than a tradition; it is a link between generations, keeping alive the rich folk culture of Maranhão.