Christmas Traditions in Brazil

Christmas is celebrated in Brazil with equal gaiety and fervor as in other parts of the world. Brazil had been a Portuguese colony earlier. So, the Christmas celebrations are influenced by the customs these people have retained over the years. Here’s an idea on the traditions followed in Brazil during this festival.

Christmas Traditions in Brazil

Creating the nativity scene:

The nativity scene or Presépio is displayed in churches, stores, homes, and other venues, especially in northeastern Brazil.

The word “Presépio” has originated from the Hebrew word “presepium” which implies the bed of straw where the Child Christ first slept in Bethlehem.

Performing a folk play:

  • One of the Christmas traditions in northern Brazil is to perform the folk play, “The Shepherds” or “Los Pastores”.
  • In such performances, the actors play the role of shepherdesses rather than shepherds. There’s also a gypsy who is shown to abduct the Christ Child.
Attending the Midnight Mass: The Midnight Mass or Missa do Galo is held on Christmas Eve, and it lasts until 1.00 a.m the next morning.

Taking part in decorations:

  • Homes are decorated with flowers on this occasion.
  • The Christmas trees are adorned with glass balls, plastic balls, and lights.
  • Huge Christmas "trees" created with electric lights are visible on the night sky in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, and Brasilia.
Christmas dinner:

  • The food savored during this festival has its origin from Germany, Portugal, Italy, and Spain.
  • The traditional dinner served on this occasion includes turkey, colored rice, ham, and vegetables.
  • Fruit dishes are a part of the festive dinner.
  • Beer and wine are also served on the occasion.
  • A German cake known as “Stollen” and a traditional Italian bread or “Panetone” are often eaten during Christmas in the southern part of Brazil.

Gift-giving:
  • Instead of Santa Claus, Father Noel or Papai Noel is considered to be the gift-bringer in Brazil.
  • Father Noel is supposed to live in Greenland and gets dressed in silk clothing to visit homes in Brazil so as to offer gifts to children.

Participating in a game:
  • One of the Christmas traditions in Brazil is playing a special game known as the Amigo Secreto.
  • The participants write down their names on a piece of paper.
  • Each of the participants takes a piece of paper with them without revealing the name written on the paper.
  • During the festive season, the participants exchange greetings with those who have their names written on the papers.
  • On Christmas Day, the family members and dear ones plan a special gathering to reveal the names of the secret friends and exchange gifts with each other.

Music and songs:

  • One of the songs that are popularly associated with Christmas in Brazil is the "Noite Feliz" or "Silent Night".
  • The people of Brazil indulge in singing and folk dancing until January 6 which is observed as Three Kings Day.
  • The Three Kings Day is supposed to be the day when three wise men visited Jesus Christ with exciting gifts.

Fireworks: The night sky in Brazil is lit up with sparkling fireworks on this festive occasion.

This is how the people of Brazil celebrate Christmas with all their age-old customs and traditions.