Girl carrying flowers

Photos: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Brazilians gathered along Copacabana Beach to make their offerings to the sea goddess Iemanja on Saturday (Dec. 28). Dressed in white, the people of Rio de Janeiro lit candles in the sand and threw flowers into the ocean with the hope that the Queen of the Ocean would grant their wishes in 2014.

Iemanja, a motherly deity in the Afro-Brazilian Candomble religion, is celebrated all over the world by people of many faiths, but her origins lie in the Yoruba religion of West Africa.

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Woman and child at ceremony
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Sea goddess statue
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Holding hands
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People surrounding candles lit in the sand
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Woman tossing flowers into the ocean
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Woman kneeling over candles burning in sand
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Anna Norris is an associate editor at Mother Nature Network. Follow her on Twitter and Google+.