In Brazil, Christmas is during summer. But this is no excuse for Santa to stop working. While the children immerse themselves in vacation and the grown-ups enjoy their well deserved rest, Santa works hard to deliver all the gifts in Brazil’s scorching heat.
The weather forecast announces: the next days will be sweltering. The highly anticipated vacations are here, let´s pack our bags! After all… it´s Christmas – Time to love, to forgive, to go to the beach, and to be merry.
… the beach? For Christmas? What about the snow?
Due to the European immigration and colonization in Brazil, the traditions of the two regions are very similar: Christmas tree, candles, Santa wearing red clothes. But Christmas in Brazil is not full of snow, and not everything can be exactly like in Europe. So, let´s get to know a bit about Christmas traditions in the tropical country. But to really get in the mood, I suggest you to read the article while listening to Jingle Bells, the Samba version, played by a Brazilian.
(Click here to open a new page to listen to the music.)
From the Latin ‘natális’, which means to be born, Christmas in Brazil is called Natal, and is celebrated on December 25th. The “big event”, however, happens on the 24th, with a typical `Ceia de Natal´ (Christmas Dinner): turkey, colored rice, nuts and lots of fruits, for which Brazil is known.
The houses are all decorated beginning on the first Advent Sunday, which is four weeks before Christmas. The Christmas Trees have a star on the top, and are covered in little lights, that illuminate living rooms around the country. The “presépio” (nativity scene) is also an important part of the tradition: it usually lays under the Christmas tree, and has Jesus in a manger, Joseph, Mary, the three Magi/Wise Men and farm animals.
In order to give Santa a small break, Brazilians have the “amigo secreto” (secret friend) tradition amongst their friends and family. At the beginning of December, participants in the game take a paper from a box with the name of one of the others, and are not allowed to tell anyone who their “amigo secreto” is. On Christmas Eve, they gather to give presents to their secret friends. To do that, each person lists some defining characteristics about his friend, until another participant guesses who the person is.
The Christmas Eve is celebrated with the song “Noite Feliz”, the Brazilian version of Silent Night. Papai Noel (literally Father Noel – ‘Santa’ in Portuguese) leaves gifts for the children and everyone enjoys Christmas Dinner.
Many families travel to the beach on the 26th and stay there to celebrate New Year. A few weeks later, the Brazilians start to prepare everything for Carnival, but we’ll save this topic for another article.
Be it winter or summer, Buddhist or Christian, German, Portuguese or Japanese, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas. Enjoy this time and your rest, because apparently Santa has a lot of work to attend to in the next few days…