No other nation in the world parties like Brazil, welcome to the irrepressible Brazilian party spirit.
Brazilian Summer: Party Time
Quite why Brazilians are so proficient at partying is a matter of cultural curiosity. Stereotyping has served a nation well—welcoming, cheerful and spirited—but this does little to address the enviable energy levels of a population poised to shimmy into hypnotic samba twirls at even the faintest hint of a drum. This patrimonial predisposition to rhythm puts most dance-shy Brits to shame, but there is unquestionably another element that feeds this penchant for partying: the weather. Brazil’s year-round climate is positively balmy—especially when compared to the UK’s seasonal assortment—and this solar energy permeates a people. Whilst Brits wrap up into seasonal submission, Brazilians fling themselves into full summer swing, with an enticing programme of festivals and high jinks for locals and foreigners to explore.
Brazil’s end of year celebrations
As one might expect, summer in Brazil kicks off with the usual suspects: Christmas and New Year. The country is predominantly Catholic and so, on the whole, adheres to the traditional festive fare; nativity scenes, Christmas trees, Secret Santa, and Midnight Mass are all Yuletide staples. Popular foods include roasted meats, salads, rice with raisins, and farofa (a local take on stuffing), with the Xmas spread most likely to be served on Christmas Eve. Much of the fun and games centres on family, meaning that once Santa has made his rounds people head to the coast in anticipation of New Year’s Eve.
Brazilians seem instinctively drawn to the beach, somehow wired to find open water as the natural antidote to the country’s vast urban centres, like São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. Plentiful expanses of gold, sandwiched between tropical fauna and boundless ocean, provide the picture-perfect backdrop for blurring where Xmas ends and NYE begins. The world’s media customarily turns to Rio de Janeiro’s Copacabana beach for a snapshot of the how locals usher in the new year—a beachfront spectacle of cascading fireworks and live shows—, but similar shoreline shenanigans are commonplace nationwide.
After all the fizz-fuelled frivolity of midnight, locals indulge in a lesser-known bout of New Year nostalgia: the “jumping of the waves”. These athletic antics, which also decree that fresh roses be strewn into the sea like errant javelins, are in honour of the sea goddess, Iemanjá, in the hope that she’ll grant hapless hurdlers seven wishes (one for each wave negotiated). Other eccentricities include dressing in white—to summon happiness—and nibbling on seven pomegranate seeds in the name of financial prosperity. January’s dry cleaning bill is sure to question the wisdom of such seasonal superstition, but either way, it’s a tantalising alternative to watching the Beeb’s review of the year, before mumbling through the second verse of Old Land Syne with Granny.
Whilst January takes grip and wrestles the UK into remorse and abstinence, Brazilians kick on in the summer sun. It’s officially “silly season” in Brazil—on a par with August in Blighty—when glorious procrastination and yearned-for holidays pummel productivity. Any downtime, however, is short-lived: the real party is yet to come.