Celebrating Christmas in Brazil


Kaylee Pitts

For the holiday season, lights at Ibirapuera Park in Sao Paulo lit up the words “Feliz Natal” (Merry Christmas in Portuguese).

Kaylee Pitts, staff writer

Considering the New Year has rolled in, people recently finished celebrating the world-wide holiday of Christmas. In the United States, Christmas consists of carolers, hot chocolate, Santa Claus movies and plenty of decorations. In my own family, we buy everything Christmas related; including soap, dish towels and rugs. On Christmas morning, we open presents, eat delicious food and then go back to sleep. Later, we attend church. However, this year I didn’t run downstairs like a five year old to look at my presents. This year, I spent my Christmas in Brazil.

Specifically, I’m in the south of Brazil—a small town called Sao Gabriel. Sao Gabriel is likely the opposite of what you expect. There are no beaches here, no movie theaters and no mall ( just a lot of cowboys).

Each country has their own customs and mannerisms. Christmas in Brazil is much different than Christmas in America. Of course, Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ, no matter which country you’re in. However, in Brazil, people do not make Christmas a month long event like Americans. They buy some decorations, but they do not decorate nearly as much. Some families have Christmas trees, but they aren’t common. In addition, unlike the United States, Christmas in Brazil occurs during the summer. Due to the hot weather, people often travel to the beach for Christmas.

In Brazil, families gather together for a large meal on Christmas Eve. Sometimes, especially in southern Brazil, families will have Churrasco (Brazilian Barbeque). Honestly, if you came to southern Brazil just to eat Churrasco, that would be reason enough (I never met any one who didn’t love Churrasco). At midnight, everyone exchanges gifts and stays up chatting for a few more hours.

For my Christmas, my grandparents decorated the tree outside their home with lights and ornaments. All my extended family squished together in my grandparents’ home and we all ate dinner together. At midnight, fireworks exploded and my family did a Secret Santa. My mom even brought the American tradition of stockings by putting candy in everyones’ shoes in the morning.

Though I love opening my gifts under the Christmas tree, I wouldn’t trade a Christmas with my Brazilian family for anything!