Other People Wish on Stars, Bahianos Wish on Ribbons


A Igreja de Nosso Senhor do Bonfim, translates to "The Church of Our Lord of the Good End." It is the most famous Catholic church in Salvador. The church is visited by people from all over the world. The people who live in Salvador worship at the church as well as the tourists who visit from abroad. The gates of the church are decorated with colored ribbons called fitas. This field note explains a little about the meaning behind the fitas.

What tradition did I learn about?:

The fita do Senhor do Bonfim is a small colored ribbon with the phrase "Lembrança do Senhor do Bonfim da Bahia" (Remembrance of the Lord of Bonfim of Bahia). The tradition is to tie the ribbon around the wrist, making three knots and with each knot making a wish. The wishes are said to come true when the ribbon falls off on its own. A long time ago, it was common to wear them around the neck with charms.

I was introduced to this tradition on my very first day in Bahia. The man who brought my bags to my hotel room tied one on my hand. I had no idea why he was doing it or the meaning of the little ribbons I saw all over Salvador, so I missed the opportunity to make my wishes. It was not until weeks later that I learned about the tradition.