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Christmas in Brazil (Grade 4)

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Christmas in Brazil

Christmas in Brazil
Snow, mistletoe, Christmas trees and holly are all signs of Christmas – but not in Brazil. In this South American country, Christmas looks a little different. It also starts earlier and lasts longer than the traditional Christmas in countries such as the United States. From December 20, when Santa Claus arrives by helicopter to kick off the celebration, until January 6, also known as Three Kings Day, the people of Brazil celebrate.

Decorations
Because Brazil has a warm climate, snow and Christmas trees are not used as traditional decorations. Instead, people who live in Brazil put up electric Christmas trees. In some of the bigger cities, such as Rio de Janeiro and Brasilia, giant electric Christmas trees light up the whole town. People also decorate their homes with fresh flowers from their gardens. In some towns, white pieces of cotton are added to pine trees to represent snow and make everything feel festive. On Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, fireworks often light up the sky.


Religious Traditions
Religion is an important part of Christmas celebrations in Brazil and it also plays a role in the decorations. Many people build Christmas scenes, called presépios, which depict the bed of straw where Jesus was placed after his birth. In the United States, these are often called nativity scenes.

In addition to building presépios, many Brazilians also enjoy other religious traditions around Christmas. On Christmas Eve, some head to Midnight Mass, also known as Missa de Galo. Others choose to attend Mass on Christmas day, usually in the afternoon so they can spend the morning sleeping in or visiting with others on Christmas morning.

Food
Those who attend Midnight Mass often choose to eat their big Christmas meal when they get home from Mass at around 1 a.m. on Christmas morning. Even those who do not attend Midnight Mass often choose to celebrate Christmas with a midnight meal. Because the meal is served so late, children are often served first. That way they can still get to bed in time for Papai Noel, or Santa Claus, to arrive unnoticed.
During the Christmas meal, families eat a variety of different foods. They have roast pork, turkey, ham, rice and both fresh and dried fruit. Some of the poorer people in the country may have chicken instead of some of the more expensive meats or may opt for a feast of unique dishes made with rice and beans.

Santa Claus
After they eat and go to bed, it’s time for Santa Claus to arrive. He is called Papai Noel in Brazil and instead of the traditional red suit, he wears a red or blue silk suit to help him keep cool in the heat. In some parts of Brazil, kids leave out socks for Papai Noel to find. If he finds a sock, he leaves a gift in its place.

In addition to getting gifts from Santa Claus, many friends and family give gifts to one another. They participate in a tradition called amigo secreto. At the beginning of December, names are written on slips of paper. Each person draws a piece of paper and send messages to and buys a gift for the person whose name appears. The catch is that the identities of the gift givers must be kept a secret until the gifts are exchanged on Christmas day.

Three Kings Day
The gift giving and other celebrations end on January 6, Three Kings Day, also known as Day of the Epiphany. In Catholic history, it is seen as the day the Three
Wise Men arrived at the manger to bring gifts to Jesus. On this day, people celebrate with feasts, parades and gift-giving to mark the end of the Christmas season. They may also eat a pomegranate, which represents wealth, and wrap three of the seeds in tinfoil to keep in their wallets in hopes that they will soon find wealth as well.

The main focus of Christmas in Brazil, much like Christmas in the rest of the world, is not on the gifts or the decorations. Instead, it is focused on being able to spend time with family and friends and enjoying the holiday for religious reasons. Because the people of Brazil spend nearly two whole weeks celebrating, they are able to spend a lot of time with the people they love.
Next to each picture, write a sentence that relates to the picture and Christmas in Brazil.

Christmas - Santa - Small


Christmas - Tree - Small


General - Gift Box - Small


Christmas - Stocking - Small


Fall - Harvest - Small



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