There’s a great big world out there, and no one family does every celebration the same. Celebrations vary through cultures, as well. What better way to study world cultures, than to explore how different cultures celebrate the common elements between us? Take a journey with us, and with the rest of the iHomeschool Network as we celebrate Christmas Around the World!
On This Crazy Homeschool Life, we are starting our study with Brazil. Right now, all three of my munchkins are fascinated with the country. They watched the Olympics and saw footage of the country, which led us into library books about Brazil, and then my four year old realized that the Brazilian flag is the same one that the “Brazi Bros” on American Ninja Warrior have on their clothes, and he was instantly hooked on the country as well. Though the country has dealt with political issues, the country is rich in history, culture, resources, and beauty.
We will start with learning about the history and celebration of Christmas in Brazil. Christmas was not celebrated in the western hemisphere until Europeans arrived, and with their arrival, the customs of Christmas spread through both the North and South American continents. Europeans from many countries settled in Brazil over the last centuries, resulting in a combination of many German, Portuguese, and Spanish customs being included in the Brazilian celebration of Christmas. In the north of the country, you will see scenes very similar to our nativity scenes. In Brazil, these scenes are called a “precepio” after the word “presepium,” which references the bed of straw Jesus slept on after his birth in Bethlehem. As with the U.S., the airports and highways are very full, since Christmas is celebrated as a big family holiday. Christmas trees and lights are also displayed.
A big meal is typically served for the celebration of Christmas. This meal is similar to most of our tables in the United States, however there is usually a greater amount of fresh fruits, vegetables, and decorative flowers, as Brazil is in the southern hemisphere and Christmas is celebrated in their summer! The typical meal for Christmas includes turkey, meat, potatoes, pecans, and fruits. Generally, the meal is served with a stuffing type mixture called farofa which usually includes rice cooked with raisins and a good spoon of seasoned cassava flour. (Click here to learn more about making Holiday Brazilian Farofa!) Tropical fruits and ice cream are typical desserts at the Christmas meal.
Customs typical to a Brazil Christmas Celebration:
– Amigo Secreto – This form of Secret Santa is popular in Brazil and lasts for most of December. Names are traded and small gifts are given for the month using a pretend name, called an apelido. On Christmas Day, the amigo secreto is revealed.
– Papai Noel – The Brazilian version of Santa lives in Greenland, and wears a silk suit(since Brazil is HOT at Christmas!) to leave presents in children’s socks.
– In Northern Brazil, a folk play Los Pastores (The Shepherds) is enjoyed. In the Brazilian version of the story, the shepherds are shepherdesses, and a gypsy tries to kidnap the baby Jesus!
– The most popular Christmas song in Brazil is ‘Noite Feliz’ (Silent Night).
– Christmas celebrations usually continue until January 6th, which is referred to as Three Kings’ Day and commemorates the arrival of the Wise Men.
– Large, well lit Christmas Trees have become common in the cities of Brazil. The largest is the Floating Christmas Tree in Rio’s harbor. The lighting ceremony has become one of the biggest national events for the country each year.
Some fun videos to watch about Christmas in Brazil:
The 2014 Rio Tree Lighting Ceremony:
Listen to Noite Feliz:
For more Christmas Around the World, visit the iHomeschool Network Link-up:
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