I don’t know exactly what the Brazilian Christmas traditions are. It’s worth pointing out that Brazil is a huge country and that each family has their own ways of celebrating Christmas. To me, this is how Christmas is supposed to be: grandmas, grandpa, uncles, aunts, cousins, mom, dad and my brother gathered around the tree and the nativity scene in the night of December 24th. We share a moment of reflection by the lights of the tree and the candles, after which come the gifts, the “secret friend” and the food! Unlike many other families, we don’t prepare an evening meal because we usually are too many people and by this time it is too hot is Brazil. We’d rather have finger food! Most of the other families prepare a supper and wait for the Santa Claus to make his entrance.
By the month of November, in Brazilian cities we can already see Christmas lights everywhere, but nothing compared to the amount of lights in Hamburg. In addition to the lights, there are several other small details that make a difference in the holiday spirit. To begin with, in Brazil we are in a very hot summer time while in Europe the cold weather and the snow approach. Moreover, in Germany there is the “Adventskalender”, a calendar full of small chocolates. You open one of them each day of December, starting from the beginning of the month and ending on December 24th. Although the calendar is mainly for children, so far I haven’t seen an adult who doesn’t enjoy opening the small porthole day in day out to have a piece of chocolate.
Speaking of sweets, by November the markets are already full of Christmas cookies, Glühwein and chocolates – there is so much chocolate at this time of the year that it reminds me of Easter time in Brazil! Glühwein is a hot drink made of wine and spices. Whoever is from South Brazil and knows “Quentão” may have an idea of what this beverage tastes like. It’s also quite common among families and friends to gather to bake muffins and visit some of the many Weihnachtsmärkte around the city. Weihnachtsmarkt is a “Christmas market” in squares and streets, where you can find all sorts of Christmas delicatessen.
Talking about international holiday traditions, I have heard that in Denmark and Sweden it is traditional to dance around the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve! What other customs do you know? How is Christmas in your family?