Brazil Culture and Traditions
Customs and traditions
According to Abbreviationfinder, the differences between the rich states of southern Brazil and the poor in the north are great even in terms of traditions. In the south, clothing, architecture, food and music are often encountered with clear influences from Germany, Italy and Eastern Europe. In the north, however, traditions originating in Africa or among the indigenous peoples dominate, or a mixture thereof. The culture there has also been characterized by colonial oppression, for example the martial arts dance capoeira.
Afro-Brazilian religions are most common among the black population, but even people of different ethnicity have joined these in recent years. The practitioners of Afro-Brazilian religions celebrate their own gods, orixás – but for historical reasons, the celebrations take place on the same official holidays as when the Catholic saints are celebrated. Brazil has many holidays a year, as both the federal government and the states and municipalities have instituted both religious and secular holidays. Below we only deal with the national holidays and traditions.
- Countryaah: Overview of the capital city of Brazil, including information about its population, economy, geography, history and map.
Know and label
Punctuality is not valued in the same way as in Northern Europe. If you are invited to dinner at home for someone, you should deliberately show up 15-30 minutes later than the scheduled time. Meetings can begin hours later than planned, and drag over time by the same amount.
Brazilians do not keep the same distance as Scandinavians to the one they stand or sit next to, or to the one they are talking to, and often take on the one they are talking to. This intimacy is perceived as natural and should therefore be avoided from the touch. In Brazil, the cheek kiss is the traditional greeting between women, as well as between men and women. The most common are two cheek pads – first one on the left cheek, then one on the right cheek. Men take care if they meet another man they do not know. On the other hand, a close friend is treated with a cordial hug.
In general, Brazilians are informal and relaxed, and because they want everyone to be happy and happy most of the time, the integrity and honesty of Scandinavians is not always appreciated. Brazilians would rather settle things. Sex and infidelity, however, are jokingly open and much about. Interrupting and being interrupted during a call is common.
The sign “thumbs up” is used frequently to show that you agree or think something is good. People often call someone’s attention with a “pssst” which is not considered patronizing in Brazil.
Brazilians often identify strongly with their state or hometown. But the pride of being Brazilian is usually greater and most people are happy to express their patriotic joy in living in what they feel is the world’s best country. To which Brazilians are proud belong o jeitinho brasileiro. It refers to the ability to solve even seemingly insoluble problems and to get past complicated bureaucracy.
As a foreign visitor, you should be careful about criticizing the Pope or the Catholic Church, advocating abortion or talking widely about not believing in God (if so). You should also avoid holding on to formalities, complaining about lack of punctuality – or talking well about Brazil’s arch-enemy Argentina.
Tea c himarão is widely consumed in the southernmost states. Often you let the cup of tea go around among the people in a company and each one may take a sip before the cup is passed on. In the northern parts of the country, coffee is more common. The coffee is weak, for Scandinavian taste buds, with a lot of sugar. Coffee for the evening meal is common. Common are also good fruit juices such as the “national drink ” caipirinha, made on the sugar cane brandy cachaça and lime. Many people also drink cold beer in small glasses (so it shouldn’t get hot), and there are many native beers to choose from.
The food varies widely across the country and is strongly influenced by all different ethnic groups. In the Amazon, you eat a lot of freshwater fish, as in the casserole caldeirada, as well as exotic fruits and root vegetables like jams and cassava (cassava). In Bahía, the heavily spiced African heritage is clear, in the south it is the meat that applies (for example the carne do sol dish, which consists of dried, salted and grilled meat served with vegetables) and along the coast seafood. In the south you will also find a lot of Italian – but also German – and Japanese-influenced food.
However, for all of Brazil, a meal is generally not considered complete without rice and beans – arroz e feijão. Typically, the “national dish” is feijoada – the meat and bean stew, which is traditionally served on Saturdays, with rice, finely cut cabbage, toasted cassava flour and orange slices.
The custom of bringing presents when visiting someone for the first time is not obvious in all classes. However, it is usually still welcome if you as a guest bring a modest gift, such as chocolate.
Upholstery and beauty ideal
In addition to some preserved clothing traditions – such as some indigenous peoples, or gauchon’s large, puffy trousers and many black Bahá’í women’s white skirts and blouses – the dominant clothing style is Western. However, Brazilian clothing, especially women’s, shows significantly more skin than a Scandinavian is used to. It is often possible to read class affiliation in the upholstery, as the richer often dress elegantly in less warm materials than the dominant synthetic materials. Men like to wear shorts and sweaters. The characteristic plastic sandals are used by men and women of all classes.
This dress code applies to everyday life, in work life it is often quite strict. Despite a tropical climate, one is expected to wear long-sleeved shirt or sweater and pants or skirt as well as shoes that hide their feet, if, for example, they work at any authority, in a store or at a bank.
The body fixation and sexualisation is strong, which puts pressure on women in particular. Within the upper class, beauty operations are common. Manicures and pedicures are very common among women of all classes, and often people comment on other people’s bodies, both when they do not hear and before them. During the carnival or on the beach, string bikini is a common sight.
Traditions, holidays and national symbols
The carnival is perhaps the most important Brazilian celebration. It takes place sometime between January and March of each year, depending on when Easter falls. The carnival ends on Ash Wednesday, the day that traditionally began the 40-day fast that ended with Easter. The carnival is a three- or four-day folk party, with most people playing music, dancing, singing, drinking and being happy.
According to Countryaah, Easter is one of the most important holidays. The faithful Catholics go to church and most others see an opportunity to give and receive Easter eggs from chocolate. Long Friday is a holiday.
Tuesday, April 21, is celebrated on April 21 in memory of the first prominent leader in the movement that advocated Brazil’s independence in the 19th century. Corpus Christi is a Catholic feast celebrating the presence of Jesus at Holy Communion. The date varies from year to year, as it falls 62 days after Good Friday. Brazil’s independence from Portugal, achieved in 1822, is celebrated on September 7.
Nossa senhora aparecida falls on October 12. The day is celebrated in commemoration of Brazil’s national patron saint, whose name is a Catholic title of the Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus. Dia de finados (The Day of the Dead, November 2) is known by several different names. It is a day of praying for loved ones who are dead. Republic Day is celebrated on November 15, in remembrance of Brazil becoming a republic in 1889.
Christmas is celebrated the night between December 24 and 25 with good food and drink. At midnight the Christmas presents are handed out. On New Year’s Eve you should traditionally be dressed in white. Otherwise, it is celebrated as in most of the western world with a lot of festivities and fireworks. The holiday itself falls on January 1.
In addition, other celebrations that are not official holidays are celebrated. The largest is Festas juninas (June parties), with São João’s day (June 24) as the highlight. It means several weeks of celebrations based on Catholic saints – in addition to São João also Santo Antônio (June 13) and São Pedro (June 29). The tradition, which is celebrated in most of the country, is strongest in northeastern Brazil. There you dance forró and a dance similar to square dance, light fires and dress in clothes reminiscent of the countryside in the past.
On Brazilian holidays such as Independence Day on September 7 or Republic Day on November 15, the Brazilian flag is raised. It is green with a yellow oblique square and in it a light blue globe with 27 stars, one for each state as well as the Federal District (Brasilia). Around the globe there is a white band with the text Ordem e progresso (Order and Progress). The green stands for Brazil’s forests, the yellow for the mineral resources and the blue, along with the stars, are said to represent the sky over Rio de Janeiro on the day the Republic was proclaimed in 1889.
The Senate President is forced to step down
Renan Calheiros, PMDB, leaves his post as Senate President, thus avoiding a vote that could have led to his being dismissed. Calheiros, who is one of Lula’s close confidants, has been accused of corruption and, among other things, must have used bullying to illegally buy two radio stations and a newspaper. The unveiling came in May and has dominated politics in Brazil ever since
The crimes of the military dictatorship are acknowledged
For the first time, the government officially recognizes the human rights violations committed by the military dictatorship between 1964 and 1985, when several hundred people were murdered or disappeared.
Slave workers are fried
Members of the federal government’s anti-slavery unit free more than 1,000 slave workers on a sugar plantation in the Amazon.
Lula da Silva takes up her second term in office
Lula da Silva takes up his second term as president after a victory in the second round of elections in October 2006 over PSDB’s candidate Geraldo Alckmin (61 percent versus 39 percent). Lula forms a new government coalition with the support of 340 of the 513 members of the Chamber of Deputies. The largest party in the lower house, PMDB, is part of the coalition but is divided. Some PMDB senators are opposed to government cooperation, and the government’s majority in the Senate is uncertain.