Published on December 20th, 2015 | by admin
How to Celebrate Christmas & New Year’s Eve In Brazil — Travel Tips for 2016
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, and soon enough it will be 2016. With the strong dollar, this may be the best time to sneak south of the border to spend a unique holiday season in Brazil, which ranks as one of the two best places in South America for great hotel deals, according to LatinFlyer’s report from SAHIC: the South American Hotel & Tourism Investment Conference.
Christmas is one of the most important annual festivals in Brazil. The nation, in fact, is home to the world’s largest floating Christmas tree. Located on Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon, in Rio de Janeiro, the tree weighs over 300 tons, stands at 53 meters high, and is lit up by 2.5 million lights. While on display, the tree will be moved around the lake, allowing it to be viewed from different parts of the city.
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Brazil has some unique customs when it comes to Christmas time. Most Brazilian families have a big Christmas dinner on December 24th. The meal is normally served around 10pm on Christmas Eve, and at midnight, a toast wishes everyone a happy Christmas before gifts are exchanged.
Favorite Christmas foods in Brazil include pork, turkey, pork, ham, salads and fresh and dried fruits. Everything is served with rice cooked with raisins and a good spoon of farofa (seasoned manioc flour.) Popular Christmas desserts include tropical and ice cream.
Most people, especially Catholics, go to a Midnight Mass service or Missa do Gallo (Mass of the Rooster), which finishes at about 1am. After the Missa do Gallo, there are often big firework displays and in big towns and cities there are large Christmas Tree shaped displays of electric lights.
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New Year’s Eve in Brazil
During New Years in Brazil, Reveillon parties are major events that incorporate traditions and celebrations take place all over the country. Brazilians know how to celebrate life through music and dance, and with the exception of Carnaval, Reveillon is the second largest party celebration in Brazil, with millions people from around the world heading to the beaches.
Rio de Janeiro will be hosting the 2016 Olympics, so the festivities will officially start with this year’s Reveillon. The city will have various stages for the reveillon concerts that take place in districts throughout the city.
There are some interesting aspects of the party that makes the celebration a genuine Brazilian New Year’s Style. Those traditions provide insight on Brazilian culture, which is a combination of African and European heritage.
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For starters, almost everyone in Brazil wears white as a symbolic gesture to welcome peace and prosperity in the New Year. Typical Brazilian foods for the celebration include lentils, pork and champagne. Other traditions include having individuals chew on seven pomegranate seeds at midnight and then preserving the seeds in their wallet. It is also common for people to run into the ocean to jump over seven waves; for every wave they jump, a wish is made for the New Year.
Lastly, many locals and travelers make it a priority to please the goddess Yemanjá, the “Queen of the Ocean” in the Afro-Brazilian religion Candomblé. Gifts for Yemanjá include floating candles, wooden toy boats with offerings and white flowers into the ocean. If the offerings are sent back to shore, the Goddess is displeased and will not grant the wishes of the hopeful individual. Thousands of people participate in the offerings the the goddess Yemanjá.
There are many other options for those planning to celebrate the holidays in Brazil. Here are some suggestions:
Very Exclusive New Year’s Eve: Fernando de Noronha
Fernando de Noronha, which is part of an archipelago comprised of 21 islands and rock islets, is a paradise with a sanctuary for sea turtles, whales and spinner dolphins. Since it’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, only a limited number of people can be there at any time. This provides a setting to one of the most exclusive New Year’s Eve all over the country.
Every year, many local and international celebrities book rooms at the luxury boutique hotels in Fernando de Noronha, planning their VIP New Year’s eve months in advance. But there are always places available for those last minute travelers.
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Fernando de Noronha has wonderful and remote beaches to explore including Baia do Sancho, considered by many one of the most beautiful beaches in the world; Baia dos Porcos, formed by pools that are home to an enormous diversity of colorful fish; and Baia dos Golfinhos, where people can approach friendly mammals.
The culinary experience on the island incorporates fresh seafood caught from its crystal-clear waters. Lobsters, octopus, fish and even sharks are infused with Pernambuco’s spices and served with tropical fruits and cassava. One of the specialties of Noronha is fish wrapped in banana leaves and “cartola,” a traditional northeastern dessert made with banana, and “queijo coalho,” a brazilian cheese.
Party-Loving Brazilians: Florianopolis
Florianopolis is the perfect option for those looking for a different type of party-loving Brazilians. Floripa, as locals call the city has more than 42 stunning beaches lining its coasts, along with mountains covered by Atlantic Rainforest and beautiful lagoons. The island is the perfect destination for those seeking sun and sand, outdoor activities and parties.
Located in the south of Brazil, Florianopolis’s Azorean heritage —made up immigrants who settled in the region 250 years ago — can still be seen in the fishing vessels, lace-work, folklore, cuisine and architecture. This tradition takes on more visible traits in villages like Santo Antonio de Lisboa and Ribeirao da Ilha. To the north, the beaches have calm waters and good tourist facilities. To the east, you have many beaches ideal for radical sports. To the south beaches such as Armação and Pânano do Sul provide tranquility with a backdrop of colorful boats and fishing nets.
Things to do in Florianopolis include boat tours of Ilha do Campeche, an island with archeological sites and prehistoric rock inscriptions, as well as an ecological sanctuary with beautiful, crystalline beaches. You can hop on a boat for Ilha do Campeche at Armação beach and spend a day on the island, with activities including diving and guided walks to archeological sites.
Praia Mole and Joaquina, with its young people and surf vibe, is considered one of the best spots in Florianopolis for those looking to meet people and have a good time. In the north of the island you can find Praia Brava, a surfers’ hangout spot, and Jurere International, with its charming bars and restaurants. In the south of the island are fishing villages with peaceful and quiet beaches and wonderful restaurants, like those in the Pantano do Sul and Ribeirao da Ilha beaches.
You’ll also want to sample the tasty seafood in Florianopolis; the local oysters are considered some of the best in the world.
Escape Everything: São Miguel dos Milagres
Tired of parties and fireworks? Make your way to one of Brazil’s more remote places: São Miguel dos Milagres is a fishing village divided by one main street, with a handful of wonderful beaches by emerald-colored sea. The city is famous for its rich gastronomy and fresh seafood. One of the main attractions in São Miguel dos Milagres is to navigate in jangadas — sailboats that take visitors to tide pools for snorkeling in the pristine waters of the reefs, along the beaches of San Miguel and Toque. Another interesting attraction is dolphin watching and visiting the Sanctuary of Manatee, located along the Tatuamunha river.
Close to São Miguel is Praia do Patacho, one of the most beautiful beaches in Brazil, where hundreds of coconut trees frame a wide strip of sand in a sea of green hues. It’s an ideal place for romantic getaways and honeymoons.