Since Brazilian Independence Day is coming soon, we wanted to take a closer look at holiday traditions in Brazil. Festivals are an integral part of the local culture. Brazil is a renowned party destination with plenty of regional holidays and celebratory events to experience.
If you’ve got friends, family or colleagues in the largest country in South America, this guide will tell you the most popular holidays in Brazil. We’ll also look at regional etiquette for gift-giving (and social faux pas to avoid), as well as some of the best gift ideas to Brazil for each event.
Independence Day in Brazil – September 7
First, we’ll look at Sete de Setembro. Commonly known as Independence Day in Brazil, it is the nation’s birthday as well as a national holiday. It’s celebrated every year on September 7th. On this day in 1822, Brazil declared its independence from Portugal. In contrast to other countries, there wasn’t an actual fight for independence. Prince Pedro, son of Portugal’s king, ripped off the Portuguese symbol from his uniform and announced Brazil’s independence. He forced Portuguese troops to leave the country and became the first Emperor of Brazil.
For this reason, Independence Day in Brazil is a popular occasion among patriotic Brazilians. Locals celebrate the holiday with lots of outdoor activities and events including military parades, air shows, fireworks and musical concerts. Thousands of proud Brazilians celebrate in the streets carrying flags, colorful banners, balloons and streamers. They dance, sing and enjoy the day with their friends and family.
While many countries honor their freedom, few see their independence celebrated all around the world the way Brazil does every year. Brazilian patriotism spreads far beyond the country’s borders. Many large cities around the world, including London, Toronto and Los Angeles, also observe the festival commemorating Brazilian independence. In New York City alone over 1.5 million people participate in the annual celebration.
Gifts for Independence Day in Brazil
Join Brazilian Independence Day celebrations by sending your Brazilian friends, family members or business associates from around the world a thoughtful gift. Send gifts inspired by Brazilian culture and gift baskets to fit the occasion.
Since picnics and family outings are quite popular on September 7th, sending your recipient a gourmet basket that includes all the party essentials is always a good idea. If you send fruit, gourmet treats, sweets and beverages, everyone will find something here to indulge.
There’s no Brazilian who wouldn’t want to raise a toast for their independence, no matter where in the world they are. A hamper with high quality alcohol like wine, whiskey or beer, complemented with delicious snacks, is another wonderful gift for Independence Day in Brazil.
Most Popular Brazilian Holidays & Their Dates
Brazilian New Year Traditions (December 31)
Nobody celebrates New Year quite like they do it in Brazil. Although spectacular celebrations take place throughout the country, the famous Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro is the place to be. Rio actually has the most celebrated New Year’s Eve in the whole world. Over 2 million people come here each year to party and ring in the New Year. The festivities in Rio are known for spectacular celebrations, firework displays and some unique customs.
Brazilian New Year traditions, like lighting candles on the beach or throwing white flowers into the ocean for good luck, are numerous and exciting. Let’s take a closer look on some of them.
The colors matter
White is the traditional color of Brazilian New Year. New Year’s Eve in Copacabana is famous for its strict rule about wearing white clothing that symbolizes hopes for peace in the upcoming year. That said, everyone is welcome to add their own twist by wearing accent colors that each signify a different New Year’s resolution. For example, orange is worn to attract good luck in business, blue is for harmony, yellow for wealth, red or pink for love and romance, and green for health.
You are what you eat
Food is often an important part of the Brazilian New Year celebration. For good luck in the upcoming year, it is traditional to eat lentils. Tradition says that pomegranates and figs bring prosperity. Brazilians consider pork lucky, while turkey meat should be avoided. Some Brazilians believe that since the birds scratch the earth backwards, eating them will prevent a person from moving forward in life.
The festival of Lemanja
Right after the clock strikes midnight and after the spectacular firework show, thousands of people head into the water to celebrate the Brazilian sea goddess Lemanja. They send offerings of candles, white flowers, and other gifts out onto the water to the goddess, and make a wish. People believe that if Lemanja accepts the offering and it doesn’t come back, the wish will come true.
New Year Gift Ideas to Brazil
Even though New Year gifts are not as popular as Christmas gifts in Brazil, Brazilians would be delighted to get even a small present sent from far away from someone they love and respect. Be it a box of gourmet chocolate, a bottle of champagne, or a bouquet of flowers, every gift will be well received and appreciated.
In the corporate world it’s customary to send end of year gifts. Gourmet gift baskets are the most popular among business partners, colleagues and employees. Giving such gifts will demonstrate your thoughtfulness and knowledge of local culture.
Brazilian Carnival Traditions (Between February and March)
The biggest and most famous festival, Carnival has become synonymous with Brazil and is celebrated with pomp all over the country. One of the world’s most spectacular and colorful celebrations, it attracts millions of people from all over the world with Rio being the holiday’s unofficial capital. The five-day national holiday starts on the Friday before Ash Wednesday and lasts until the following Tuesday. The celebration is a huge party full of traditional samba rhythms, dancing and local feasts.
Interestingly enough, Carnival in Brazil began in the early 19th century as a way of celebrating and indulging before Lent, the 40 day period of fasting and prayer leading up to Easter. The word carnival itself comes from Italian “carne levare” literally meaning “removal of meat”.
Wondering how you can join your friends and dear ones in celebrating exciting Brazilian Carnival from far away? “Think food” is the answer. Share the party by sending a gift basket overflowing with gourmet delights or alcoholic beverages (or better both!) and have no doubt they will be thinking of you every time they raise a toast.
Brazilian Easter Traditions
Brazilian Easter traditions are quite similar to the Western ones. People decorate the streets with bright colors (mostly purple – the traditional color for Easter in Brazil) and hold parades carrying statues of Jesus and the Virgin Mary. They also attend mass and share a festive meal with family and friends.
Even though Easter egg hunts are not common in Brazil, kids still get plenty of treats. Easter is a great excuse to remember all the kids in the family and send them a little something they can enjoy and share with others, like a chocolate gift basket or fruit hamper. Grown-ups should also be remembered during this joyous occasion. Flowers and potted plants make great Easter gifts to Brazil for a hostess or any female recipient. A bottle of good wine will be your number one choice for men.
Dia dos Namorados (June 12)
Brazilian Valentine’s Day is called Dia dos Namorados and is observed on June, 12. The reason traditional Valentine’s Day is not celebrated in Brazil on February 14th is that it often falls during the Carnival Week, which is one of biggest events in the country.
Literally meaning “Lover’s Day” Dia dos Namorados in Brazil celebrates romance and relationships. Even though it is observed just like Valentine’s Day, the holiday actually has nothing to do with Saint Valentine. It honors another saint, Saint Anthony who blesses young couples for happy marriages and his day is observed on June 13th.
To celebrate the festival of love, couples exchange romantic gifts like chocolate and flowers. They go on dates and dinners together much like people do on Valentine’s Day. The most typical Dia dos Namorados bouquets typically come in red, a traditional color of love. The queen of flowers, the red rose is the most popular Dia dos Namorados flower.
Breakfast gift baskets are common in Brazil and are often sent to loved ones on a number of occasions including Dia dos Namorados. Usually decorated with fresh flowers, they come in stylish wicker hampers and make a wonderful romantic surprise that can be kept as a keepsake.
Nossa Senhora Aparecida & Children’s Day (October 12)
October 12th marks not one but two popular national holidays in Brazil which celebrate both the patron saint of Brazil, the Virgin Mary, as well as the children of the country.
The history of Our Lady of Aparecida (Nossa Senhora da Aparecida) dates back to the early 18th century. When the fishermen of a small village were fishing without any luck for a long time, they started praying. Soon after, they caught a small statue of the Virgin Mary. Right after that, their nets came up full of fish. Since then, this day has been associated with miracles. The little village grew into a city called Aparecida (meaning “she who has appeared”), and a church was built to house the statue. Now the world’s 2nd largest basilica, it has become the destination of many pilgrims who arrive annually pay honor to Mary.
But October 12th is special not only for religious people. Younger generation of Brazilians also look forward to this day all year to celebrate Children’s Day. On this day, adults try to make sure their children feel valued and loved. They shower them with chocolate, candy, sweet treats and other gifts for kids.
All Soul’s Day (November 2)
A national holiday, All Soul’s Day in Brazil is time to visit the graves of those who have passed away. People bring flowers to their loved ones’ graves and pray for their souls. Many people believe that these prayers can cleanse the deceased’s souls so they may enter heaven.
If you want to send a condolence gift and honor the memory of someone dear, send flowers to Brazil. Flower bouquets and baskets featuring yellow or white flowers along with white orchids and carnations are associated with mourning. They are the most suitable choices for the occasion.
National Day of Black Conscience (November 20)
Declared a National holiday in 2011, National Day of Black Conscience celebrates the black African-Brazilian community and their contribution to the country. It is an important festival that honors the black resistance to slavery in general and aims to reduce the discrimination that Africans face.
The date was chosen to coincide with the death of a famous African-Brazilian leader, Zumbi dos Palmares, who fought for the rights of slaves in Brazil in 1695. On this date, many educational events, marches, parades and celebrations of African culture are held all over the country.
Make sure to demonstrate your awareness and care by sending your African-Brazilian friend or business associates a small gift of appreciation. Sending a thoughtful bouquet, or a chocolate and wine gift basket are great ways to show you’re thinking about them. Sharing your empathy on a small but significant occasion like this is a powerful way of creating a special bond.
Christmas Traditions in Brazil (December 25)
Except for the high temperatures and the absence of snow (Brazil is in summer at Christmas time), Brazilian Christmas traditions are very similar to the Westerns ones. Many of them, including a nativity scene, come from Portugal, which ruled the country for a long period of time.
Just like anywhere else, Brazilians decorate Christmas trees at home. Many cities will also put up giant electric Christmas trees, sometimes right on the water. The world’s largest floating Christmas tree is almost 300 feet high (this is a 31 story building!); it’s erected annually in Rio de Janeiro.
Traditionally, the Christmas feast in Brazil starts around 10pm on Christmas Eve. It’s difficult to create a single ‘traditional’ Christmas menu for Brazil’s holiday feast. As a strongly multicultural society, Brazil’s population is a mix of people who originally came from many different countries. On Christmas, you can find Italian, Portuguese, or African style dishes in Brazil, depending on your location.
When the clock strikes midnight, people wish everyone a Happy Christmas and exchange Christmas gifts. Locally, Santa Claus is called Papa Noel, and he brings presents to kids, leaving them in socks by the window. Many people also play a popular holiday game called “Secret Santa” (amigo secreto). In Brazil, Secret Santas give small gifts to each other through December. They use a pretend name, and reveal their real identity on Christmas Day.
On Christmas in Brazil, as in many other places, people exchange gifts in both informal and formal situations. Dear friends or distant relatives, business associate and former employees are all remembered on this day. Join the Christmas celebration by becoming your loved ones’ own Secret Santa! Surprise them with a gift of chocolate, a gourmet gift basket to Brazil or any other gift that will make their day extra special.
Birthdays, anniversaries, housewarmings, and even business relationships are also great reasons to send gifts to Brazil! Here’s what you need to know about each of them.
Anniversaries, Weddings & Romance in Brazil
Brazilians take romance quite seriously and shower their loved ones with gifts on various romantic occasions throughout the year.
Wedding anniversaries and the anniversary of the day on which your relationship started are of big significance in Brazil. On these days, take your love out for a romantic date. Be sure to give them a gift that shows how well you know their taste.
On Dia dos Namorados (and Valentine’s Day if you are a foreigner), give romantic gifts and beautiful bouquets. Remember, those are staples when it comes to romantic gift-giving in Brazil and you should never forget them.
Celebrating Birthdays the Brazilian Way
In many ways, birthday celebrations are very similar to those in the United States. People give all kinds of gifts depending on their relation to the recipient. There are no restrictions when it comes to birthday gift giving etiquette in Brazil. However, avoid black and purple colors that represent mourning. The same goes for carnations, since they are flowers for condolences.
Business Gift Giving Etiquette in Brazil
Though appreciated, colleagues do not expect gifts in business relationships in Brazil. If they are not presented properly, gifts can be mistaken for bribes. As such, the first rule to remember is to give gifts at a social setting rather than a business meeting. Never give gifts on the first meeting since it will most probably be misinterpreted. The same is true about the gifts to members of the opposite sex. When giving a gift to a woman for example, a man should mention that it comes from his spouse, or from a team at the office.
It’s typical to send gifts for business partners for national holidays like Christmas and Easter. End of year gifts are also much appreciated and well-received. Gourmet gift baskets are the most popular business gift to Brazil, with chocolate coming in at a close second. Brazilians do not usually give flowers as business gifts. The only exception is if you know someone will love a potted plant for their desk.
Brazilians bring their zest for life to their holiday traditions. So many festivals and unique customs are great reasons to send gifts to loved ones and business associates in Brazil.
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