Brazil’s Chinese community dates back to the early 1800’s. But the state of Rio de Janeiro did not officially celebrate the Lunar New Year until 2017. This year, in what’s being seen as an important political gesture, Rio’s legislative assembly held a ceremony marking the event for the first time.

CGTN’s Lucrecia Franco reports.

For over a century, a neo-classic palace in Rio’s downtown area has been a political institution. It first housed the country’s National Congress, and when the capital moved to Brasilia in 1960, it became the state’s legislative assembly.

But what the palace had never witnessed was lion and dragon dances both outside and inside the historic building.

The idea to celebrate China’s New Year at Rio’s legislative assembly was an initiative of lawmaker Jucelia Oliveira. “[The Chinese] deserve it for the partnership they have with Brazil and with the state of Rio de Janeiro so this an honor for me,” said Oliveira.

The Chinese community and many of Rio’s authorities and lawmakers attended the unique ceremony.

Since 2017, the Chinese New Year has become part of Rio’s annual calendar, but this is the first time, a solemn ceremony is dedicated to China’s most important festival.

China’s Consulate-General in Rio, Li Yang, said it was an important diplomatic and political gesture. “We firmly believe this is a clear reflection of our close ties, of our good, stable and positive bilateral relations, our mutual understanding and friendship.”

Other Chinese cultural events – an International Lantern Festival and a Kite Festival – are planned for this year to get Brazilians more familiar with its biggest trading partner’s celebratory traditions.