Christmas is a very important day for many in Brazil. Brazil is the largest country in South America. Brazil has no official religion, but in 2010, around 65% of the population embraced Roman Catholicism, making it the largest Catholic country in the world. In Brazil, Christmas is a very important day. Brazilian people are a mixture of people from different parts of the world. So Christmas is celebrated in various ways, according to the culture and traditions of those different countries. One example of this is presepio, which is a traditional Portuguese nativity scene. The presepio was introduced by a Franciscan friar named Gaspar de Santo Agostinho in the 17th century. Presepio are displayed in churches, homes, and shops.
Another unique tradition is Amigo Secreto (secret friend), begins in early December. It is the same thing as “Secret Santa” in the U.S. In Amigo Secreto, each participant writes his name down on a piece of paper. Then the papers are collected and each participant takes a different piece of paper. The person cannot say whose name he chose. When Christmas arrives, or at the group’s Christmas party, they give a gift to whoever’s name they chose.
In Brazil, Santa Claus is known as Papai Noel (Father Noel), which means “grace giver.” Some children leave socks by their windows for Papai Noel. If he finds it, he’ll exchange it for a present. On Christmas Eve, most people go to a Christmas Mass. Brazilians also decorate their homes with fresh flowers, plucked from their own gardens.
The food served on Christmas is typically roasted turkey, vegetables and fruit, as well as beer and wine. Some examples are:
- Panettone is a sweet bread. This cake contains candied orange, lemon peel, citron and raisins. It comes from Milan, and the city has become known for it.
- Farofa is milled cassava baked with butter, salt and bacon, cooked until golden brown. Farofa is often used in the stuffing that goes inside the turkey, as well as other dishes.
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