Brazil: Culture

Written by Sebastien on 16 February 2013. Posted in 2014 Brazil World Cup

The Brazilian culture is a fascinating mix derived from centuries of colonization. Brazil was a Portuguese colony for three centuries, so the core of its culture is inherited from Portugal. Native Americans and Africans also inhabited the Brazilian lands during the colonization, influencing the culture. The native inhabitants mixed with Portuguese people or were exterminated. Portuguese people came together with their black Africans slaves and, even though, they had to speak the Portuguese language, they managed to influence the natives. More recently, in the 19th and 20th century, immigrants from numerous European countries and even from Japan came to Brazil. The result is a multicultural and multiethnic society with a very complex culture.

The official language (Portuguese) is a strong element of national identity and it is spoken by 99% of the population. However, Brazilian Portuguese contains a multitude of words of Native American and African origin. There are 118 Amerindian languages spoken in remote areas of Brazil.

Due to the Portuguese Jesuits who tried to convert indigenous people to Catholicism in 1549, over 95% of the population was catholic. After 1940 the Protestantism became more and more popular and nowadays only 2/3 of all Brazilians are Catholics. Around 22% of the population was converted to Protestantism and 8% declare that they are atheists.  
Carnivals are a worldwide famous symbol of the Brazilian culture. The Brazilian Carnival is held every year. It takes place forty-six days before Easter and it attracts lots of tourists. In coastal cities the festivities go on without any break for an entire week. During the carnival, all activities in the country basically stop in order for all people to enjoy the festivities.

The multiethnic nature of the Brazilian culture is also reflected in the Brazilian cuisine which varies greatly from one region to another. Feijoada is the national dish ever since the colonial period even if nowadays it is adapted in every region. Feijoada is a stew made of beans, pork and beef which is usually served with rice. Beans and rice are very popular in Brazil. In what concerns drinks, the native Brazilian liquor is distilled from sugar cane and it is known as cachaca. This is the main ingredient of caipirinha, the national Brazilian drink. Coffee plays a very important part in the culture and society of Brazil. Thanks to the fertile soil, Brazil is the main producer of green coffee.

One of the most famous and recognizable elements of the culture of Brazil is the music. Samba is the national music style derived from Brazilian and African influences. It originated from the state of Bahia and it spread in the entire country. Nowadays the Brazilian samba is known worldwide. Other popular Brazilian musical styles include choro, bossa nova, sertanejo and frevo.

Another widely known cultural element is capoeira, a combination of martial arts, dance and music. It was developed by Africans slaves who came together with Portuguese people, but it also has native Brazilian influences. Nowadays Brazilians are very proud of capoeira and consider it a symbol of their complex culture and also a symbol of resistance to oppression. Capoeira masters are teaching this art all around the world and shows are held in numerous countries in order to promote the Brazilian heritage.

Brazilians are very affectionate people and showing signs of affection is part of their culture. Men shake hands and women kiss each other’s cheeks when they meet. In business relationships Brazilians always want to know the person they are dealing with. They are more interested in people than in companies. Corporate events are treated with maximum importance and both men and women usually dress up for such occasions.

Sport is very important in Brazil. Football is the most popular sport, but not the only one. The Brazilian national football team is among the best teams in the world and numerous Brazilian players are worldwide famous. The country was and still is involved in hosting numerous sports events, including World Cups and the 2016 Summer Olympics.  

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