Holiday Traditions in Brazil

This blog post is part of our ‘Multicultural Holiday Traditions’ series. Translators submitted their favorite holiday traditions and we are elated to share them all with you! The first post of the series can be found here and links to all the posts can be found at the bottom of this article. The following was sent it from Brazilian-Portuguese translator, Claudio. Thank you for sharing your culture with us!

Christmas Celebration


“Christmas” and “Panettone” are almost synonyms in Brazil. Created in Italy, this is a sweet, yeasted bread, baked round and tall like a cake, containing raisins and candied citrus peel, often finished with almonds and sugar crystals. Lighter recipes have been gaining ground lately, as the weather is usually really hot here in December (it is Summer, around 95°F, so… no cake for you, Snowman!).

P.S.: In my opinion, Panettone is better toasted, with butter.

Santa who?

In Brazil, the giver of gifts for all who have made it onto the ‘nice list’ is called ‘Papai Noel’ (or even ‘O Bom Velhinho’ – something like ‘Good Old Man’). However, children believe that, when he travels to Brazil during Summer, he leaves the red fur coat and boots at home and wears a stylish red silk robe, in order to keep him cool. Also, he lives in Greenland during the year, not the North Pole.

Snowman made out of a sand with sunglasses and a santa hat on in front of a crystal clear blue ocean

New Year’s Eve

Offerings to Iemanjá, the Goddess of the Ocean

Brazil has strong connections with Africa, and the African religion of ‘Umbanda’ has lots of followers here. On New Year’s Eve, people go to the ocean’s edge and send out their offerings – white flowers and candles – in small toy boats, in hope that Iemanjá, the Goddess of the Ocean, will grant their wishes. It is very beautiful and touching to watch this at night.

Group of people sending out offerings to Iemanjá, the goddess of the ocean, in Brazil

Seven waves into the New Year

This one is fun: seven is a lucky number in Brazil. So, at the stroke of midnight, you need to go to the water’s edge and jump seven waves, making a wish with each one. Not sure if it really works but, at least, you can start the New Year doing some exercise and burning some calories (very good idea after all the food you have eaten).

Silhouette of a person running into a wave in the ocean at sunset

Other Holiday Content

Team iTi’s Multicultural Holiday Traditions

German Christmas Traditions – Including a cookie recipe!

Christmas Time in Italy


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