Nativity – How Brazil Celebrates Christmas

How Brazil Celebrates Christmas
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Brazilians are a lively people and most of their Christmas celebrations are packed with activities that unite the country around religion and tradition. Even though it is summertime in Brazil, all elements of the nativity festival are on full parade all of December. There are Christmas trees, Papa Noels, stockings, and large snowmen.

Like most countries, Brazilians enter the festive season around mid-November with the local government and the mayor setting up streetlights and decorating parks.  Even though most homes do not install lights, there will always be a Christmas tree somewhere. Churches are left behind, and many Nativity Scenes are created.

Brazil Celebrates a Most Religious Christmas

How Brazil Celebrates Christmas

Brazil has the highest Catholic population in the world which puts it Christmas celebration a religious festival. That may explain the high focus on the Nativity scenes and church events.  During December a typical citizen will participate in these events:

  • Visiting a Nativity scene in a nearby church
  • Attending  a Christmas play commonly known as ‘Os Pastores”
  • Playing music, joining a concert, or just listening to Corals
  • Watching the City Hall or Park Christmas fireworks
  • Watching one of the floating Christmas trees.

Getting back to Brazil’s religious heritage, about 65% are Catholic. This means that on Christmas Eve there are about 140 million people celebrating a midnight mass.  The mass is known as the “Missa do Gallo” and finishes at about one o’clock just before dawn.

In addition, people attend a second church service on Christmas in the afternoon. This is a moment of fireworks and light shows for the people. However, there is one tradition that has impressed the world from Brazil’s festive season.

In Christmas 1996,  Rio de Janeiro created the world’s largest floating Christmas tree.  The tree was placed on the Brazilian lake, Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas, becoming part of its annual festival and a new introduction to its festive season.  There are more than two million flickering light bulbs adorning this phenomenon which towers upwards  173 feet tall.

The nativity celebrations that fill Brazil with life deck the hearts of one of the most friendly nations in the world with lights and love.



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