At IUBH, we have international students from over 110 different countries. For the Advent season, we asked some of them to describe Christmas traditions in their home countries.
Brazil is a Christian country, so Christmas is also very important to us. Many people attend church services, some out of deep religiosity others as a matter of tradition. We also have Santa Claus, but his name is “Papai Noel”, which roughly means Father Christmas.
During the Christmas season in Brazil, we not only decorate Christmas trees with colourful lights, but also our houses and streets. In my hometown of Brasilia we even have a competition for the most beautifully lit street. Christmas time however, is also a time to slow down: we try to use our time in a contemplative manner. We go out more often for walks, for example, to enjoy the illuminated streets.
Our celebration of Christmas itself looks like this: Traditionally the entire family gets together on December 24th. I especially like our ritual of setting up the Christmas tree together. While doing this, we talk about the good things that have happened over the past year. At about 8 or 9pm we have Christmas dinner, which typically consists of turkey, rice, bread, fruit, French toast and biscuits. Good wine is also always a part of the meal. Since Brazil is a very large country, there are of course regional variations in the types of specialities served. At about 11pm or midnight, we all gather around the Christmas tree to exchange gifts.
As in Germany, December 25th is a national holiday that most people spend at home with their families. Many also use the holiday to take a vacation and travel to the coast to enjoy the beach with their loved ones.