Christmas in Brazil: Feliz Natal!

Known in Brazil as Natal, Christmas is one of the most important holidays for the nation. It’s a celebration that shows the country’s mixed culture and its Portuguese, African, and Latin American heritage elements.

This “Festa” is enjoyed like in most Western European countries, the US and Canada, with just a few exciting and fun details exclusive to Brazilians.

The weather is hot and sunny during the festivities, being summer in the southern hemisphere. So, people have a chance to celebrate a beach Christmas. The only snow around is fake – often made of little white cotton scraps.  

As a country with strong religious roots, it’s common to find a nativity scene named “Presepio” displayed in churches, houses and stores. The term comes from the word “presepium,” which in Latin means stable or corral. It represents the bed of straw in which Jesus first slept after birth in Bethlehem. 

Papai Noel is the gift-bringer in Brazil. The legend says he lives in the North Pole and resembles Santa Claus in many ways. The most significant difference: the friendly old man wears a red silk suit while visiting South America. After all, it IS summertime there. 

Another usual way to approach gift-giving around this time is an Amigo Oculto, or Secret Santa. This way, each person is responsible for buying a gift for one family member, without their knowing. When it’s time to give the presents, the gift-buyer will often describe the person until everyone guesses who it is.

25th December in Brazil means ftime with your loved ones, religious manifestation, and also… Lots of food and drinks

The Christmas dinner is a massive feast of various foods that are more frequently focused on a chester than a turkey throughout the nation.  Salted cod, or bacalhau in Portuguese, is a typical guest in these extended family banquets. Some households prefer “pernil,” a slow-roasted marinated pork leg. 

All dishes come with various salads and white rice, which is sauteed with garlic and onion.

One of the most common items on the Natal dessert menu is rabanadas, a final sweet course similar to what we know as French Toast. Usually, they are made with fruit, but variations that include chocolate are increasingly frequent.

Everyone tries to relish every second of the celebration because they know it will be another long 365 days until Christmas comes again.

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