We spent most of 2014 and this year traveling though Europe, with quick trips to North Africa & the Middle East where we learned about food, culture, tradition & various customs. Our kids, LouLou & Jaf are worldschoolers, learning about traditions across the world. We’re back home in Hawaii for the holidays, but our learning always continues. This holiday season, we’re learning all about celebrating Christmas and Réveillon in Brazil- a country we cannot wait to visit!
CHRISTMAS IN BRAZIL
Christmas is one of the most important annual festivals in Brazil, a majority Christian nation. Brazil is home to the world’s largest floating Christmas tree. Located on Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon, in Rio de Janeiro, the tree weighs over 300 tons, stands at 53 meters high, and is lit up by 2.5 million lights. While on display, the tree will be moved around the lake, allowing it to be viewed from different parts of the city.
Brazil has some unique customs when it comes to Christmas time. Most Brazilian families have a big Christmas dinner on December 24th. The meal is normally served around 10pm on Christmas Eve, and exactly at Midnight people greet each other, make a toast wishing everyone a Happy Christmas and after that they will exchange presents.
Favorite Christmas foods in Brazil include pork, turkey, pork, ham, salads and fresh and dried fruits. Everything is served with rice cooked with raisins and a good spoon of “farofa” (seasoned manioc flour.) Popular Christmas desserts include tropical ice cream.
Most people, especially Catholics, will go to a Midnight Mass service or Missa do Galo (Mass of the Roster). The mass normally finishes about 1.00am. After the Missa do Gallo there are often big firework displays and in big towns and cities there are big Christmas Tree shaped displays of electric lights.
NEW YEARS IN BRAZIL
During New Years in Brazil, Reveillon parties are major events that incorporate traditions and celebrations take place all over the country. Brazilians know how to celebrate life through music and dance, and with the exception of Carnaval, Reveillon is the second largest party celebration in Brazil, with over millions people from around the world populating the beaches of Brazil.
In Brazilian culture, starting off the New Year on the right foot is essential; this year it is especially important with the development of current plans for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. There are some interesting aspects in the party that makes the celebration a genuine Brazilian New Year’s Style.
For starters, almost everyone in Brazil wears white as a symbolic gesture to welcome peace and prosperity in the New Year. There are also typical Brazilian foods people eat like lentils and pork and drinking champagne that is supposed to increase their luck for the New Year. Other traditions include having individuals chew on seven pomegranate seeds at midnight and then preserving the seeds in their wallet. It is also common for people to run into the ocean to jump over seven waves; for every wave they jump, a wish is made for the New Year.
Lastly, many locals and travelers make it a priority to please Goddess lemanjá, “Queen of the Ocean” in the Afro-Brazilian religion Candomblé. Gifts for Yemanjá include floating lite candles, wooden toy boats with offerings and white flowers into the ocean. If the offerings are sent back to shore, the Goddess is displeased and will not grant the wishes of the hopeful individual. Thousands and thousands of people participate in the offerings of Goddess lemanjá, and for visitors witnessing this ritual for the first time, it is an extraordinary sight to see.