The German community in Brazil, one of the five largest migrant populations in the country, still retains many traditional customs
It’s no secret that Brazil is a multicultural country and a melting pot of races and backgrounds. One of the largest foreign communities today is the German one, these days mostly found in the South and Southeast, in the states of São Paulo, Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina and Paraná.
Estimates suggest that Brazil is home to approximately 5 million German descendants.
The greatest intake of Germans took place during the late nineteenth century and the first 20 – 30 years of the twentieth century. The main causes, especially in the nineteenth century, stemmed from increasing social dissatisfaction and a lack of vision in a newly formed German state (Germany only became a unified country in 1871) and, paradoxically, industrialisation, among other concerns.
The industrial phenomenon, as it rocked the somewhat still feudal German market, stimulated a wave of migration to up-and-coming countries like Brazil, which, due to the abolishment of slavery, needed an influx of labour.
In many cases, Germans that settled in Brazil ended up working on farms in the interior of São Paulo, often on coffee plantations. Others went further south to apply their trade in other areas.
And thus the German settlements began to take shape. Many, especially in the South, became so authentically German that their inhabitants barely bothered to learn Portuguese, and to this day they only speak German and other such dialects, such as the Pomeranian language.
Given this authenticity, many traditional festivals and customs are still celebrated to this day. In São Paulo, for example, there is the May Fest and Brooklin Fest, two quintessentially German festivals that take place in the Brooklin neighbourhood, while in Rio Grande do Sul and Santa Catarina Oktober Fest is a much-anticipated annual event.