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Brazil is busy with Carnaval in February — just one reason its Lover's Day is in June

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Today is Valentine's Day in Brazil. There, it's known as Lover's or Couple's Day. And clearly, Brazilians don't celebrate it in February. NPR's Carrie Kahn explains.

CARRIE KAHN, BYLINE: Flavia Tavares and her husband Wallace Alves, barefoot and dressed in white, stand at the water's edge below one of Rio de Janeiro's most picturesque peaks.

(SOUNDBITE OF OCEAN WAVES CRASHING)

UNIDENTIFIED PHOTOGRAPHER: (Non-English language spoken).

KAHN: So their photographer urges them to give each other sexy looks. Get closer, she says, clicking away.

(SOUNDBITE OF CAMERA CLICKING)

UNIDENTIFIED PHOTOGRAPHER: (Non-English language spoken).

KAHN: The couple has been married seven years.

WALLACE ALVES: (Non-English language spoken).

KAHN: I got up at 5 a.m. and battled Rio's terrible traffic. So this is her gift, Alves laughs. Five other couples were shooting Dia dos Namorados - Lover's Day photos too. But why not celebrate on February 14 like most countries? Photographer, Luciana Souza - shooting a gender reveal party down the beach - explains.

LUCIANA SOUZA: (Non-English language spoken).

KAHN: There are just too many parties then she says. It's carnival, and no one wants to be tied to just one person. Her boyfriend, Charles Sanchez, laughs. He just made it official and asked her to marry him. She said yes. Lover's Day is big business in Brazil...

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: (Non-English language spoken).

KAHN: ...Used for selling everything like cellphones in this ad. Sales this year expected to hit half a billion U.S. dollars, according to a national trade group. But why June 12? The story goes that back in 1949. Some savvy Sao Paulo businessmen hoping to boost mid-year sales picked the day before the Catholic celebration of St. Anthony, popularly said to be the savior of marriages.

UNIDENTIFIED CHOIR: (Singing in non-English language).

KAHN: At St. Anthony Church in downtown Rio, Father Geraldo Bellocchio says many believe Anthony made peace between a sparring couple.

GERALDO BELLOCCHIO: (Non-English language spoken).

KAHN: But Bellocchio says Anthony performs many more miracles than that. He doesn't object to him being used for Lover's Day business. Sales are even up at the church's small store, where 67-year-old parishioner, Celia Regina, is buying a small St. Anthony statue.

CELIA REGINA: (Non-English language spoken).

KAHN: She laughs, you have to turn the statue on its head if you're hoping to find a partner or a spouse. Sure, she would like to find a new love today, she says - God willing, of course. Carrie Kahn, NPR News, Rio de Janeiro.

(SOUNDBITE OF JOAO GILBERTO SONG, "COISA MAIS LINDA") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

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Carrie Kahn is NPR's International Correspondent based in Mexico City, Mexico. She covers Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central America. Kahn's reports can be heard on NPR's award-winning news programs including All Things Considered, Morning Edition and Weekend Edition, and on NPR.org.
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