• Tiradentes is the nickname for Brazil's national hero
  • The nickname means "tooth puller" because he was a dentist by profession
  • He was executed long before Brazil achieved independence

Tiradentes Day is observed on April 21 every year and so, it's time to look back at the man behind the movement believed to be the precursor to Brazil's independence.

The word "Tiradentes" literally means "tooth puller," and it's also the nickname that Brazilians call their national hero, Joaquim Jose da Silva Xavier because he was a dentist, National Today said. But it wasn't his being a dentist that made him a national hero. His medical profession aside, Xavier was a patriot whom Britannica noted to have led and organized the first major movement against Portuguese colonial rule in Brazil in the late 1780s.

Eventually, however, Xavier was captured and hanged on April 21, 1792, in the plaza that's now named Praca Tiradentes. Although he was captured, the uprising was viewed as one of the precursors that eventually led to Brazilian independence, which was achieved some 30 years after Xavier's death.

Today, he is considered a martyr and national hero, and the day of his death is observed as a national holiday.

Such holidays remind people today of the sacrifices that those who came before had to make in the name of independence, as per National Today, and Tiradentes was among those who gave up their lives for the cause.

On this day, let's look at some facts about Tiradentes and the holiday observed to recognize his martyrdom. (Courtesy--National Today, Britannica, and Calendar Labs)

  • Apart from being a dentist, Xavier also worked as a soldier, miner, cattle driver and merchant.
  • He was educated by his brother, who was a priest.
  • He is said to have been a wide reader, who carried with him copies of the constitutions of the 13 original U.S. states.
  • Xavier created a group of freedom fighters who aimed for complete independence for Brazil.
  • When the plan was foiled by Portuguese authorities, Xavier reportedly claimed full responsibility for the movement and was tried for several years. He ended up being the only conspirator sentenced to death.
  • After Xavier was hanged, his body was reportedly quartered and displayed at the locations where he shared his ideas to serve as an example.
  • As a national holiday, offices, banks and schools are closed on Tiradentes day.
  • Most Brazilians spend the holiday at home, but government officials pay tribute at Praca Tiradentes.
Pictured: Representative image of the Brazil flag. Pixabay