10 Features of Brazilian Culture
Each country is characterized by its own traditions and peculiarities. Brazil and Brazilian culture are no exception. Today we would like to present to you 10 special facts of Brazilian culture, with which you can engage personally on your next trip to Brazil.
Since the beginning of colonization, religious beliefs have had a great influence on Brazilian culture. Adherent to a wide range of religions, Brazilians are among the most devout people in the world. For one thing, Brazil is home to the largest Catholic community in the world. There are also numerous Protestant churches, Jehovah's Witnesses, Adventists, Buddhists, Muslims, and Afro-Brazilian denominations. Particularly in the colonial period, when Christian settlers sought to suppress the Afro-Brazilian faith, different religious dogmas were mixed.
Who is Nossa Senhora Aparecida?
In Brazil, every child knows the national patron saint Nossa Senhora Aparecida. Around the year 1717, the terracotta statue of Mãe Negra (Black Mother) was discovered in a river by fishermen. The water was considered to be void of fish, so the fishermen desperately prayed to the Virgin Mary and asked for a good catch. The statue landed in their nets first before they made an abundant catch. Since then, "the one who appeared" (“aparecida”) has been venerated throughout the country. One of the most magnificent national shrines in the world and an important Brazilian cultural asset, the shrine of Nossa Senhora Aparecida sits in the state of São Paulo.
The Arrival of Soccer to Brazil
The first thing that many people associate with Brazil is soccer. Brazil's rise to become the "land of soccer" began in 1885, when a young man named Charles Miller from São Paulo learned about the sport while studying in England and brought a ball and the rules back home with him. Initially, it was an elitist sport played among affluent Brazilians. It was only in the 1920s that "futebol" became a popular national sport.
The most popular television-show format in Brazil is the telenovela, which is also well received by viewers abroad. The first in-house production was broadcasted on Brazilian television in 1951. Presently, the country's four largest channels show telenovelas daily, the majority of which are produced in the country. Consistently high viewer ratings prove the loyalty of large audiences and make telenovelas long-running hits.
The City Theater of Ouro Preto
One of Brazil's greatest cultural treasures is the country's oldest functioning theater in the city of Ouro Preto, in the state of Minas Gerais. It was built in 1770 and opened as an opera house. Since then it has provided a stage for the rich theater culture of Minas. The founder chose two actresses for his first cast, thus violating social norms of the time and determining the exceptional position of his building early on.
1965 to 1985 was the period of the great Música Popular Brasileira (MPB) festivals. Important artists of the Brazilian music world like Chico Buarque, Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil and Tom Jobim earned their fame during these decades. Even during the military dictatorship, social issues and protests were expressed in MPB and made accessible to a wide audience. Although they were eventually banned by the dictatorship, the festivals still have an impact today, playing a large role in MPB’s continued success.
Archaeological Sites in Brazil
A lot remains unknown about the first peoples who settled in Brazil. Archaeological sites with cave paintings in the Serra da Capivara National Park in Piauí indicate, that the first humans colonized Brazil about 50,000 years ago. The oldest human remains discovered on Brazilian soil in Minas Gerais date back about 12,500 years. Other archaeologically significant sites of Brazilian culture can be visited in the states of Pernambuco, Rio Grande do Sul, Rio Grande do Norte, Amapá and Roraima.
Who Is Saci Perere?
Saci Pererê, the most famous figure in Brazilian mythology, is a joint product of three key cultures of Brazilian society. He was born in the legends of the indigenous tribes of the Brazilian south. From African mythology comes the image of a black boy, who lost a leg while engaging in the martial arts of capoeira. Saci owes his red cap to European tales and is the keeper of knowledge about medicinal plants. Legend has it, that he's also considered a troublemaker at home and on farms. He also likes to cause confusion among travelers.
Quilombo dos Palmares Settlement
The settlement of Quilombo dos Palmares, in the present state of Alagoas, is representative of the independence movement of enslaved Afro-Brazilians. It was in 1580 that enslaved individuals started to flee to the Quilombo, which grew steadily. During Dutch colonial rule, it was even divided into several villages. Not much is known about the political organization in the Quilombo. It’s assumed that it was ruled like an African kingdom. The most famous leader, Zumbi, was appointed hero of the Afro-Brazilian freedom movement after his death.
Cachaça: Brazilian National Heritage
Sugar cane schnaps represents the most widespread alcoholic beverage in Brazil. There are two genesis stories behind this popular drink. Brazilians tell themselves, that an enslaved individual in a sugar mill collected some of the liquid that leaked when the sugar cane was ground. Due to the change in temperature, the liquid evaporated and condensed on the ceiling of the sugar mill. From there it dripped down, which is where the nickname "pinga" (“drop”) comes from. In another variant, the Portuguese colonial masters, who used distillation techniques inherited from Arabs, are considered the inventors of cachaça. What is certain is that cachaça developed into an important economic asset of the colony and, after a short period of prohibition, became a national cultural asset from 1920 onwards. Today, sugar cane schnaps bears the official title of "Historical Cultural Heritage of Rio de Janeiro."
Besides unique ecosystems, such as the Amazon and the Pantanal, there is also rich culture and history for tourists to discover. Let's go to Brazil!