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What are Brazilian wish bracelets called?

What are Brazilian wish bracelets called?

Brazilian wish bracelets, also known as Brazilian wish bracelets, are a popular type of bracelet often worn by travelers visiting Brazil. They are colorful beaded bracelets that are said to make wishes come true when the bracelet falls off naturally. Wishes made on a Brazilian wish bracelet are believed to have a better chance of coming true if the bracelet falls off on its own, rather than being removed manually.

Origins and History

The exact origins of Brazilian wish bracelets are unclear, but they seem to have emerged as a trend in the 1990s or early 2000s. Some accounts suggest they originated among Afro-Brazilian religious communities in Salvador, Bahia, who would exchange beaded bracelets as part of wish-making rituals. Others say the trend began with street vendors selling beaded bracelets to tourists along the beaches of Rio de Janeiro and encouraging them to make a wish.

Whatever their exact origins, Brazilian wish bracelets exploded in popularity as a must-have souvenir item and lucky charm for anyone visiting Brazil in the 2000s. They became especially trendy after various celebrities were photographed wearing them on trips to Brazil. Their simple, colorful look and association with making wishes come true made them appealing to travelers of all ages and backgrounds.

Today, Brazilian wish bracelets are ubiquitous in beach towns and markets across Brazil. While locals typically don’t wear them, artisans continue to make and sell the bracelets to tourists as good luck charms and a classic Brazilian souvenir. Their popularity endures as both a fashion accessory and symbol of the wishful thinking that comes with traveling.

Appearance and Design

Brazilian wish bracelets typically consist of threads or cords made from materials like nylon, cotton or waxed linen. These cords are strung with colorful seed beads made from glass, acrylic or gemstones into various patterns and designs. Some common motifs and styles include:

  • Chevron pattern with alternating colors
  • Iridescent beads for a rainbow effect
  • Red and green beads representing Brazil’s national colors
  • Heart and star shaped beads as symbols of love and luck
  • Evil eye beads to ward off bad luck
  • Beads with letter charms spelling out “Brazil”

While patterns and materials vary, the bracelets typically have a loose, adjustable fit. This allows them to slide off the wrist easily when the wish comes true. Most measure between 8 to 10 inches long when laid flat.

In addition to the single strand wish bracelet, some artisans make more elaborate multi-strand and beaded cuff styles. But the classic single strand bracelet remains the most popular and affordable option for many tourists and vendors.

Meaning and Rituals

According to tradition, you make a silent wish while tying or being helped to tie on the bracelet. The wish is sealed by tying a knot. You then wear the bracelet until it falls off naturally to activate the wish and make it come true.

If the bracelet falls off within a few hours or days, it’s thought your wish will come true very soon. If it stays on longer, it may take more time. But the wish is expected to come true as long as the bracelet falls off on its own.

To avoid bad luck, you must never cut off the bracelet yourself. The beads are meant to slowly stretch and slide off when the time is right. Taking it off with scissors is said to jinx or cancel the wish.

Some vendors even prohibit wearing bracelets in water, claiming that wetting them too soon can wash away their luck. However, travelers often ignore this rule for practical reasons.

When the bracelet does fall off, tradition says you should tie it to a tree, shrub or even airport luggage carousel. This transfers your fulfilled wish to bless other travelers.

Popular Tourist Destinations

While found across Brazil, some popular places to buy Brazilian wish bracelets include:

  • Rio de Janeiro – Street markets in Copacabana and Ipanema neighborhoods
  • Salvador – Outdoor markets and stalls at Dique do Tororó and Mercado Modelo
  • São Paulo – Municipal Market and stores in Vila Madalena district
  • Foz do Iguaçu – Local artisan stalls at the entrance to Iguazu Falls park
  • Manaus – Adolpho Lisboa Municipal Market in the city center

Vendors target popular tourist spots where visitors want to make wishes about their trip. Beach towns like Rio, Salvador and Florianopolis have lots of bracelet sellers catering to tourists.


Brazilian wish bracelets are inexpensive souvenirs, typically selling for 5-20 Reais ($1-4 USD). Prices vary depending on materials, vendor location and your bargaining skills. Cheaper plastic bead versions sell for under $2. More intricate bracelets with gemstones or handmade artisan work can cost $10-15.

At major tourist centers like Rio’s Copacabana, bargaining is expected. Vendors may start at 20 Reais, allowing you to negotiate down to 10 or as low as 5 with persistence. At fixed price markets or stores, the sticker price is often final.

Bracelet Type Average Price Range
Simple plastic beads 5-10 Reais ($1-2 USD)
Seed beads with designs 10-15 Reais ($2-4 USD)
Gemstones and artisan beads 15-25+ Reais ($4-8+ USD)

Bulk discounts are sometimes offered, allowing you to stock up on multiple bracelets as cheap gifts and souvenirs for family and friends.


With Brazilian wish bracelets available globally online, discerning travelers want to know they’re buying an authentic handmade bracelet from Brazil. Here are some tips for finding the real thing:

  • Shop from local artisan markets in Brazil for best selection and authenticity.
  • Look for quality materials like glass seed beads rather than plastic pony beads.
  • See if the threads are tightly woven rather than hastily assembled.
  • Check for designs unique to Brazil like their national colors.
  • Ask vendors about their bead sources and bracelet origin.
  • Bracelets under 5 Reais are more likely to be mass-produced fakes.

Buying directly in Brazil guarantees you’re getting a bracelet actually made there. But there are online retailers that source authentic bracelets from Brazilian artisans as well. If shopping online, read reviews and check product details carefully.

Other Wish Bracelets Around the World

The concept of wish bracelets exists across many cultures worldwide. Some other popular examples include:

  • Turkey – Evil eye bracelets with glass beads in blue and white to ward off bad luck
  • Bali – Songket bracelets made from embroidered silk and silver threads
  • India – Elephant hair bracelets braided with real elephant tail hairs as good luck charms
  • Central America – Worry dolls tiny dolls tied into bracelets said to take away worries
  • Tibet – Mantra bracelets imprinted with spiritual prayers and text

Similar to Brazilian bracelets, their symbolism and rituals vary but share the common meaning of hope, luck and fulfilled dreams.

Caring for Your Bracelet

To extend the lifespan of your Brazilian wish bracelet:

  • Wear it loosely to avoid fraying the threads
  • Avoid getting it wet or dirty
  • Take it off before bathing or swimming
  • Store it in a dry, enclosed space when not wearing
  • Consider coating threads in clear nail polish to strengthen
  • Don’t cut or force the bracelet off yourself

With care, a quality Brazilian wish bracelet can last for years until ready to grant your wish!


For travelers visiting Brazil, wish bracelets offer a fun and affordable way to take home a piece of local culture. Few souvenirs capture the spirit of Brazilian optimism and joie de vivre like these charms tied in hopes and dreams. The iconic bracelets make the perfect gift or personal reminder of your time in Brazil and the wishes you made there.