Family Day and the Nine Wives


At my daughter’s school, they hold an annual event called Dia da Familia, or Family Day. It is held on a Saturday and includes performances by all the kids. It’s really cute and the kids get really excited about it and take it all very seriously (at least my daughter does).

However, this particular family day included a rather odd presentation. After a ballet skit, a screen dropped to cover the stage while the teachers organized children behind it for the next performance. During that time, about 10 minutes, the school elected to document the life of Vinicius de Moraes. Moraes was a Brazilian poet. His most famous works were produced in the 60’s and 70’s. Many of his poems were used in Brazilian music. (He also had a career as a diplomat.)

I could see the connection between a famous Brazilian poet/songwriter and the importance of the children learning about music and performance… and even passion, for that was mentioned a few times throughout the presentation. I could justify the subject of the story… if the school had left out the fact that this man had nine wives. But no. They chose to actually document all nine of the wives… on Family Day. Was the purpose of this to show how great a big family is? Because, he produced offspring with most of the early women. But no, because the quotes the school showed were mostly about needing new passion with each new marriage. Apparently, based on the presentation, each wife added something to the creative process.

Even my Brazilian husband was confused about the message. Now, I’m not judging Vinicius. Once the third wife went out, the rest should have known what they were in for. And if you want some stability, marry an accountant, not a poet. The American ideals (but not necessarily the reality) for a family include a group of people that stay together until the parents die and the kids turn 18. Perhaps Brazilian ideals are different – the more the merrier? Still, it is a stretch in my mind that this is an appropriate topic for Dia da Familia.


Another (what I though was a hilarious) cultural clash or just plain crazy? You tell me.

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21 Responses to Family Day and the Nine Wives

  1. Fred Wilds says:

    I have to agree with you on that one. I think the way they could have handled it was by saying he had that many, it is not standard and then ;move on to his works. I don’t think making the focus about his nine wives life is not a good one for kids. They get enough mixed messages as it is.

  2. On the “bright side”, of the 9 marriages, only one was legal in the civil sense. While he married nine “religiously”, there was only one civil ceremony (recognized by the state as a legal marriage). Some were positively uncivil as I think one tried to shoot him after she found out he was having an affair. It just goes along with my general rule of not wanting to know about an famous figure’s personal life. It’s usually not pretty.

  3. 1megupload says:

    Thank you for sharing this. It’s good to know I’m not the only one that sees some completely accepted things as a little strange.

  4. I wouldn´t use the nine wives to reference the piece since children probalby won´t understand it. They may even feel confused so why do it?

  5. Jenner Cruz says:

    Many kids have divorced parents nowadays. It’s natural the school will not display the conventional family portrait as the only acceptable one. The message here is it’s okay to be divorced and to pursue happiness. No matter how many relationships your parents may have, there is an extended notion family that includes tolerance and diversity.

    • Thanks Jenner. Is this the Brazilian view? Do you think that is what they were going for? I wish that had made that message clearer, because at least that would be something to grasp. Although from an American perspective, still odd, and from an American parent perspective, not the best message. But in terms of crazy vs. cultural – maybe just a misfire on their part.

      • Jenner Cruz says:

        Yes, that’s the Brazilian view and that’s the school message, although many Brazilians would not portray Vinicius as a family role model. The school probably thought the message didn’t need to be clearer since every educated Brazilian knows his life and poetry. This poem summarizes his view on love:

        Soneto de Fidelidade

        De tudo ao meu amor serei atento
        Antes, e com tal zelo, e sempre, e tanto
        Que mesmo em face do maior encanto
        Dele se encante mais meu pensamento.

        Quero vivê-lo em cada vão momento
        E em seu louvor hei de espalhar meu canto
        E rir meu riso e derramar meu pranto
        Ao seu pesar ou seu contentamento.

        E assim, quando mais tarde me procure
        Quem sabe a morte, angústia de quem vive
        Quem sabe a solidão, fim de quem ama

        Eu possa me dizer do amor (que tive):
        Que não seja imortal, posto que é chama
        Mas que seja infinito enquanto dure.

        Love, don’t be immortal since it’s fire, but infinite while it lasts.

    • @ Jenner
      “The message here is it’s okay to be divorced and to pursue happiness”

      Yet it seems the idea here was to convey that an artist needs inspiration, hence Vinicius de Morais fed upon each spouse for said purpose; in other words the women were not portrayed in the piece to preach tolerance. And c´mon, 9 wives! Would you not say that there are more suitable models to convey that it is ok to have divorced parentes, step-parents, and so forth. I get the impression that the artist just didn´t take marriage seriously (using the institution as an appendage for his creativity and nothing more), associating and thus relying on him to preach tolerance for different lifestlyes just ends up ridiculing those in the audience that fall under the category of a “not getting it right the first time”.

  6. It does seem a bit strange to me. I can’t see anything like this being focussed on in a British school. In fact, during the recent celbrations for Charles Dickens there were a few stories about his private life going around that I had never been told about at school. Your story also seems to suggest that he was exploiting the women for artistic or personal gain and then moving on. Another less than wholesome interpretation.

  7. Sofia says:

    I think the school just picked the wrong person to document on Family Day. I suppose if one is talking about Vinicius’ life, one has to mention the poet’s nine wives… nine marriages (civil, official or not) were important for his career as a poet and songwriter, so none of the wives should be left out. That’s how it is – Brazilians know about Vinicius’ passion for women and how women inspired his work, so Vinicius and nine wives always come together. But I have to agree – talking about his life on Family Day…. nah!

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