What do you see in Brazil at Christmas?

Answered by Jeremy Urbaniak

In Brazil, Christmas is a time of joy and celebration, just like in many other parts of the world. However, there are some unique traditions and customs that make Christmas in Brazil special.

One of the most common sights during Christmas in Brazil is the nativity scene, known as “presépio” in Portuguese. These elaborate displays depict the birth of Jesus and are often set up in homes, churches, and even public spaces. The nativity scene typically includes figurines of Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus, the three wise men, shepherds, and animals.

Another important tradition in Brazil is the Christmas tree. Many families decorate a Christmas tree with lights, ornaments, and tinsel. Some people also like to place gifts for family and friends under the tree, to be opened on Christmas morning. The Christmas tree is often the centerpiece of the home during the holiday season and provides a festive atmosphere.

Similar to the United States and other Western countries, Santa Claus is a popular figure in Brazil. Children eagerly await the arrival of Papai Noel, as Santa Claus is known in Portuguese, and hope to receive gifts from him. Some families even hire actors to dress up as Santa Claus and visit their homes on Christmas Eve to surprise the children.

Another unique tradition in Brazil is the celebration of “Ceia de Natal,” which is the Christmas dinner. This is a special meal shared with family and loved ones on Christmas Eve. The dinner often includes a variety of delicious dishes such as roast turkey, ham, bacalhau (salted codfish), rice, salads, and desserts like rabanada (a type of French toast) and panettone (a sweet bread).

In addition to these traditions, Christmas in Brazil is also a time for fireworks and music. Many cities hold fireworks displays on Christmas Eve to celebrate the holiday. Brazilians also love to sing Christmas carols, both traditional ones and those with a Brazilian twist. It is common to hear joyful music and singing in the streets during the holiday season.

A personal experience I had during Christmas in Brazil was visiting a local open-air market in Rio de Janeiro. The market was filled with vendors selling Christmas decorations, traditional foods, and handmade crafts. The atmosphere was lively, with families shopping for last-minute gifts and enjoying the festive ambiance. It was a wonderful experience to see the mix of traditional Brazilian culture and Christmas traditions come together in such a vibrant way.

Christmas in Brazil combines Portuguese traditions with familiar Western customs. Nativity scenes, Christmas trees, Santa Claus, and family dinners are all part of the holiday festivities. However, Brazil also adds its own unique flair with fireworks, music, and local traditions. It is a time of joy, togetherness, and celebration for Brazilians of all ages.