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Christmas in Brazil

Updated on December 13, 2013

Christmas is a holiday celebrated throughout the world. Even in countries like Brazil. So, how about foreigners - or more specifically Americans - who choose to spend the holidays in Brazil? What types of festivities are there and how do Brazilians celebrate this joyful and spiritual holiday loved by so many? What ways could you manage to enjoy Christmas while in Brazil? I am going to show you some of the best places in Brazil to celebrate this bright holiday. Stay with me and let's take a little journey into a Brazilian Christmas.

Santa Claus

Santa Claus
Santa Claus

A Brief History of Christmas

According to historians, the meaning of this holiday represents different things to different countries and cultures. The original meaning of Christmas - to the Christians - was to celebrate the birth of Jesus of Nazareth on the 25th of December. But, during a period of time before the days of Crist, in Scandinavia, the Norse celebrated Yule from December 21st up until January. This idea of celebrating Yule was to throw a log on the fire and have a feast around the fire until it went out. This was in recognition of the return of the sun because, during this period, the winter solstice made the days long and dark.

To the Germans, the holiday meant honoring the Pegan god Odgen. In ancient Rome, the Romans celebrated by honoring Saturn: the god of agriculture. And then, for the Romans, there was the birthday of Mithra (god of the unconquerable sun), who's birthday happens to be on the 25th of December.

The fact of the matter is, Jesus of Nazareth was not really born on the 25th of December. The truth is that not even the bible can suggest the date of his birth. The reason Christmas was chosen on 25 December is because church leaders wanted the world to adopt the traditions of the pagan Saturnalia festival. Americans did not begin celebrating Christmas as a tradition until later in the 19th centry. And Christmas officially became a holiday in American in 1870.

Christmas in Brazil - How Do Brazilians Celebrate the Holidays?

A typical Brazilian Christmas involves the exchange of gifts, spending time with family and a BIG Brazilian Christmas feast - usually eaten on Christmas eve. I've spent, at least, three Christmases in Brazil. This year will be my fourth. So, Brazilians Christmas is not much different from ours. But Brazilians don't spend as much on gift giving as us Americans. To them, quality family time means more than buying presents for each other. There are a lot of Catholics in Brazil. So, Brazilians pick up on Catholic holiday traditions beyond the typical Brazilian traditions such as attending church services.

In my opinion, the food more than makes up for it. It is the most awaited event of the year: a Brazilian Christmas feast. Brazilians have a way of taking a typical meal and turning it into a smorgasbord. To Brazilians, it's not just about throwing a turkey on the table mixed with potatoes, cranberries, stuffing, a juicy ham with all the fixings. It's also about the theme of the dinner. Some tinsel here, a christmas reef surrounding the turkey. A Brazilian Christmas dinner usually consists of the following:

Christmas Dinner

Christmas dinner (Photo courtesy of tiverylucky at
Christmas dinner (Photo courtesy of tiverylucky at | Source
  • Salgados (types of finger food snacks that are usually deep batter fryed)
  • Vatapá (a delicious gravy substance cooked with shrimp and served on rice)
  • Duck
  • Ham
  • Turkey
  • Salads & fruits
  • Brazil nuts

Brazilian Christmas

Brazilian Christmas lights & decorations
Brazilian Christmas lights & decorations

Brazilian Christmas Lights Shows

Brazilians know how to put on a great Christmas lights show. Besides the domesticated lights show displayed by locals, there are some prime locations throughout Brazil where you can see amazing displays of holiday lights shows for the general public to see. I'll start by listing some of the best in top 3 order.

Curitiba Brazil

  • #3 Natal Iluminado - Natal Iluminado is a program created by the Commercial Association of São Paulo. One of its primary objectives is to attract consumers, as well as, tourists with their awesome artistic display of lights combined with a musical concert. This year, Natal Iluminado can be seen in these Brazilian cities:
    1. Taubaté - 12/12/2013
    2. Mogi das Cruzes - 12/19/2013
    3. Santos - 12/22/2013
  • #2 The city of Curitiba - Although, I have not actually been there, from what I've been told and seen in pictures, Curitiba is an impressive enough city beyond the spectacular Christmas holiday events. It's known as a beautiful, green, well organized city. Its colonial architecture and lush green landscape make it a contender with any US city. Here is my list of Christmas shows & attractions from Curitiba:
    1. Árvore Encantada do Radisson - A display of lights, pyrotechnics, image projections and a musical choir. Location: Radisson hotel, December 13,18, & 20
    2. Auto de Natal - An awesome display of lights called Nata Iluminado, as well as, musical bands every Tuesday & Thursday of this holiday season. Location: Praça Santos Andrade
    3. Coral do Palácio Avenida - A brilliant lights display. Location: Downtown Calçadão da rua XV, December 7,8,13,14,15
    4. Natal de Luz com Jesus - A theatrical show with the theme of the birth of Jesus combined with an amazing lights display. Location: Bosque Nossa Senhora da Salete Rua Lange de Morretes, 533 - Jd. Social - 82520-530, December 15, 20,21,22
  • #1 Number 1 on my list for Brazilian Christmas light show attractions comes from a city called Gramado. Gramado is located in the southern Brazilian state of Rio Grando do Sul. It is a tourist city with postcard quality scenery and landscape. The city of Gramado hosts one of the biggest Christmas celebrations in the country. They have more events, shows, parties and gatherings than any other place in Brazil. I'll leave you with a list of some of the main events from the city of Gramado. Enjoy this Brazilian Christmas

Map of Gramado

1.Corrida e Caminhada de Noel - Location: Coberta street, Downtown Gramado, Date: 15 December 2013, Time: None given

2.Nativitaten - Location: Lago Joaquina Rita Bier, downtown Gramado, Date: 4,7,11,14,18,21,25,28 December 2013, Time: 9:30PM

3.Grande Desfile de Natal - Location: Avenida das Hortênsias, downtown Gramado, Date: 1,5,8,9,12,15,16,19,22,26,29 December 2013, Time: 9:30PM

4.Fantástica Fábrica de Natal - Location: Rua Carrieri, Planalto, downtown Gramado, Date: 3,6,10,13,17,20,23,27,30 December 2013, Time: 9:30PM

5.Natalis - Location: Lago Joaquina Rita Bier, Date: 2,6,9,13,16,20,24,27,31 December 2013, Time: 9:15PM

6.Árvore Cantante - Location: Rua Coberta, downtown Gramado Date: 1,4,5,6,8,13,16,17,19,21,24,25,28 December 2013, Time: 8:00PM

7.Au Au, Uma Aventura de Natal - Location: Palácio dos Festivais, downtown Gramado Date: 1,5,6,7,8,13,14,15,20,21,22,24,25,28,29 December 2013, Time: 8:00PM

8.Concertos de Natal - Location: Rua Coberta, downtown Gramado Date: 9,15,22 December 2013, Time: None given

9.Corais - Location: Joaquina Bier, Planalto, Gramado Date: 1,4,5,6,7,12,19,21,24,27,29,30 December 2013, Time: 5:30PM and 6:30PM alternating days

10.Folia dos Reis - Location: downtown Gramado Date: 5,12,13,20,25,28 December 2013, Time: 11:AM, 3:00PM and 5:30PM alternating days

Christmas in Gramado

Christmas in Gramado - fireworks and light show display
Christmas in Gramado - fireworks and light show display

Where in the world to celebrate Christmas?

Best location in the world to celebrate Christmas?

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Brazilians wish for the same as us Americans. Peace, love of God and family, joy, spirituality and prosperity, but most of all ... they love to party!

Hey? have a very merry happy Christmas this year everyone! Please do visit me sometime at my website for more information regarding Brazil or The Brazilian Language.

Gramado Christmas Lights Show

Gramado Christmas Lights Show
Gramado Christmas Lights Show

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