BRAZIL

Christmas Day on December 25 is a national holiday in Brazil. But because Brazil lies in the Southern Hemisphere, Brazilians celebrate Christmas in the summer. In the small cities in the entire country, as well as in the largest cities, like São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Recife, Salvador, Fortaleza, Curitiba, Porto Alegre, Brasília, Manaus, Belém, Natal and Belo Horizonte, the celebrations resemble in many ways the traditions in Europe and North America, with the Christmas tree, the exchanging of gifts and Christmas cards, the decoration of houses and buildings with electric lights and the nativity scene.

Despite the warm tropical summer weather, some incongruences such as decorations with themes of winter and snow are not uncommon. In some cities like Guarapuava, there are decoration contests, when judges go to houses to look at the decorations, inside or outside of the house, and decide the most beautiful house. Christmas Eve is the most important day. Unlike in the North American and Anglo-Saxon tradition, Christmas takes action mainly near midnight, usually with big family dinners, opening of gifts and the celebration of the “Missa do Galo” (the rooster’s mass) in churches throughout the nation.

Many Brazilians decorate their homes with a Christmas Tree, there is no rule, the parents can decorate it by themselves as a surprise to the kids, or they can do it together. In addition to the Christmas tree, many families set up a Nativity scene as the main decoration. Nativity scenes are very popular in Brazil, and can be seen everywhere including churches and popular places around the town. Like many other countries, Christmas dinner in Brazil is normally served late in the evening on Christmas Eve around 10 or 11 p.m. The meal often includes farofa stuffing, assortments of fruit, fried cod, and roast turkey with a dessert called “rabanada”. Along with their meals, Brazilians typically drink champagne, wine, and fruit punch. Typically after they eat, many Brazilians attend a Midnight Mass service or watch the Pope’s television broadcast celebration of “Midnight Mass in Rome” with family and friends.

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