Brazilian culture is a culture of a very diverse nature. An ethnic and cultural mixing that occurred in the colonial period between Native Americans, Portuguese, and Africans formed the bulk of Brazilian culture. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Italian, German, Spanish, Arab, and Japanese immigrants settled in Brazil and played an important role in its cultural development, creating a multicultural and multiethnic society.
Brazil was a colony of Portugal for over three centuries. Large numbers of settlers from Portugal arrived during this period (nearly 1 million) and brought their culture to the colony. The native inhabitants of Brazil had a strong contact with the colonists. Many were exterminated, others mixed with the Portuguese. For that reason, Brazil also holds Amerindian influences in its culture, mainly in its food and language.
Black Africans, who were brought as slaves to Brazil, also participated actively in the formation of Brazilian culture. Although the Portuguese colonists forced their slaves to become "more civilized" (that meant to convert to Catholicism and speak Portuguese) their cultural influences were absorbed by the inhabitants of Brazil of all races and origins. Some regions of Brazil, especially Bahia, have obvious African legacy in the music, food, language, etc.
Immigrants from Italy, Germany, Spain, Japan and the Middle East played an important role in the areas they settled (mostly Southern and Southeastern Brazil). They organized communities that became important cities (Joinville and Caxias do Sul, for example) and brought important contributions to the culture of Brazil.
Brazil has a large number of local, regional, and national holidays as well as other holidays that are dedicated to certain events and festivities.
Here is a list of local holidays:
- January 1: New Year's Day
- January 25: Sao Paulo City Holiday
- February 15-16: Carnaval
- April 2: Good Friday
- April 21: Tiradentes Day
- May 1: Labour Day
- June 3: Corpus Christi
- July 9: Revolution Day
- November 20: Black People's Awareness Day
- December 24-26: Christmas
Perhaps the most well-know holiday in Brazil is Carnival - the annual celebration held forty days before Easter and marking the start of Lent. Carnival in Rio de Janeiro is known for its elaborate parades staged by the city’s major samba schools in the Sambodromo, and is one of the world’s major tourist attractions. In other regions such as Bahia and Pernambuco Carnival takes on a unique regional flavour. Carnival celebrations in Brazil feature locally-originating traditions and music (such as axé and frevo).
Brazilian fondness for sports in general is shown by the existence of some 8,000 sports clubs throughout the country. No other sport in Brazil can compare in popularity to soccer, where it is called futebol.
Both indoor and beach volleyball are also very popular. The women's indoor volleyball team won the World Cup in 1991, and the men’s team won the Gold Medal at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992 as well as the World Cup in 2002. Brazil is also regarded as one of the major forces in basketball, while tennis is also widely played throughout the country.
Due to its extensive coast and warm climate Brazilians are increasingly taking up new sports such as surfing, windsurfing, and hang gliding.
Formula One (F1) car racing is another popular spectator sport in Brazil.
The Cuisine of Brazil, like Brazil itself, varies greatly by region. A vast country that boasts a breadth of influences, such as Amerindian, Portuguese, Italian, Spanish, German, Arabic, African and Japanese, Brazil's culture and cuisine are extremely unique. Dishes such as picadinho de jacaré are quite original; the meal is made from alligator meat. The natural crops of the region also add to its singularity. Root vegetables such as mandioca, yams, and peanuts, and fruits like açaí, cupuaçu, mango, papaya, guava, orange, passion fruit, pineapple, sweetshop, and hog-plum are among the local ingredients used in cooking. Brazilian pine nuts called pinhão grow in a tree that is abundant in the southern part of Brazil, and are a popular national snack, as well as a lucrative export. Rice and beans are an extremely common dish, as are fish, beef, and pork.
Some typical dishes are caruru, which consists of sun-dried meat, beans, goat, and corn meal; feijoada, a simmered bean-and-meat dish; tutu de feijão, a paste of beans and mandioca flour; moqueca capixaba, made of fish and tomato; and chouriço, a mildly spicy sausage. Barreado, a meal from the State of Paraná, is made by putting meat in ceramic pans, and burying the pans under the soil so that the meat boils with the heat of the sun. Salgadinhos, cheese bread, pastéis and coxinha are common finger foods, while cuscuz branco, milled tapioca, is a popular dessert. Brazil is also known for its cachaça, a popular native liquor used to make in the chic Caipirinha cocktails.
Brazil is known for its gaúchos, a cowboy figure in the pampa regions. A barbecue-style meat known as churrasco is thus popular in those regions. Many Brazilian restaurants that open abroad serve churrasco, so the dish is perceived in the international community as one of the main meals in the country. In reality, the country's gigantic geographic scope creates regional differences in the cuisine, and no single dish can encompass and represent the national palate.