Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Real Christmas!

BRAZILIAN SANTA CLAUS FIGURINE

Brazilian Santa Claus figurine. Sits on top of my mother's piano, it has been in our family for many decades

There is no such thing as a Brazilian Christmas and there is no such thing as an American Christmas.
Christmas traditions were brought to the new world across the big pond by the waves of immigrants that came from Europe.
Christmas in Brazil is as similar to Christmas in the United States as the immigrants that formed both nations.
Brazilian Christmas have more European elements brought over from Germany, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Ukraine, Poland and even from Christian Lebanese.
The United States has Christmas elements from Germany, Norway, Sweden, England, Wales, France, Russia among many others...
Do you see the similarities?
I do, I have experienced Christmas in Brazil for more than 20 years and have experienced Christmas in the United States for almost 20 years now, so trust me, there are very subtle differences besides the weather being cold in the US and summer in Brazil.
Very popular in Brazil, Italy and Switzerland. Panettone has always been a strong Brazilian Christmas tradition brought most certainly from Italy and Switzerland and it is increasing in the United States every year.
We can find it all over New England and we used to see it everywhere in Florida as well.
It is not hard to make the connection between Panettone and Fruit Cake, very similar cakes, both with European roots.
Panettone has been a tradition in Europe since the Roman Empire, thousands of years ago, even before the birth of Jesus Christ.
Ironically enough the most sold Panettone in the world today is Bauducco, a Brazilian Panettone brand from Sao Paulo.


Brazilian Bauducco Panettone, a Christmas staple for thousands of years 

Santa Claus wears heavy clothing because the traditions as we know started in countries such as Austria, Germany and Switzerland where it's cold during Christmas, not Kansas, Florida or Washington state...
So if you ask why Brazilian Santa Claus wears heavy velour? How ridiculous is that? Brazilian Santa Claus wearing heavy velour costumes...??
I will tell you what's up with that! If Santa Claus was Brazilian, Californian, Australian, New Zealander or Floridian he would be wearing a red speedo and he would be seen with a surf board instead of a sleigh, he would be seen with Emus and not Reindeers  :)


This is what a Brazilian Santa Claus would look like if Christmas was a Brazilian created tradition! Or Californian, or Australian...you get the idea!  :)

I have the up most respect and love for my dear adopted country, the United States, but you don't know how many times I have wished all Americans would be required to take mandatory Geography and History in High School.
I have to say that childish blog rants about MY CHRISTMAS at the trailer park in KANSAS or my little town in WASHINGTON state being the REAL Christmas and everybody else's Christmas just sucking have gotten on my nerves this year!
Big TIME! Snap out of it!
You are not Kansas anymore or Washington state for that matter!
If you are not literate enough in world history, geography and common sense diplomacy to understand and respect different cultures other than your own and you are arrogant to the point that you believe Real Christmas songs are the ones you used to hear as a child, get over yourself, original Christmas songs were created mostly in German and they were translated to English the same way they were translated to Portuguese or French.
How arrogant to say YOUR CHRISTMAS songs are REAL! That you are the only one from a culture that has CHRISTMAS COOKIES, so you just write on your blog that BRAZIL has no Christmas traditions, no Christmas cookies, the songs you hear irritate you because they are in Portuguese, they are not real and everything is a mere imitation, really?
Decorated Palm trees? NO, Brazil has every species of EVERGREEN growing in abundance, there goes the lack of Geography classes again, you just need to travel a little around Sao Paulo, Minas, Rio or any Southern State to see mountains covered in all kinds of Pine trees and evergreens!



Brazilian Christmas tree farm. Sao Paulo state.

My father has always bought a REAL, EVERGREEN Christmas tree in Sao Paulo every year and they smell as good if not better than the ones I can buy in New England. They are sold in many corners of the city.



Natural Christmas trees for sale in Sao Paulo

If your Brazilian family has no Christmas traditions brought from Europe, where Christmas traditions were created, your Brazilian family is probably neither Christian nor of an European background and if they are, perhaps they are just the type that don't care for Christmas traditions, so please don't sell a wrong image of Brazil.
There were no Christmas traditions in Africa or within the Amazonian Indians for example so if your family is not of European tradition, it will be hard for them to teach you or share with you something they don't have or know little about.
Don't tell me Brazilians have no Christmas traditions, it is offensive, ignorant and NOT TRUE!

11 comments:

Jim said...

Calma Ray...

I believe our fellow blogger was speaking from within her experience of longing for a more familiar Christmas not available to her as a new resident of Brazil. The comments read to me more like a desire to walk down a familiar path, while including the frustration experienced regarding the difference here that make that out of reach.

The blogger was very self critical of her impatience and desire for the familiar. I saw her being vulnerable, writing about inner wants that she cannot have and being bitter and angry about that.

As an expat living far from my birth family and the holiday traditions I grew up with - I related entirely. Expressing a personal frustration is not the same as being critical of others.

I have more confidence in the blogger than to go negative when reading posts that explore the sadness and disappointment (and bitterness and anger) that sometimes comes with the territory when moving to a new country.

Have faith in the depth of thinking and experience among expats, even if a blog post reads a little funny to you.

And I have never seen a Christmas cookie here... =;-)

Stay warm and safe through the blizzard.

Gil and Ray said...

Dear Jim,

Thanks for your comment.
I also do relate to what you described. I read negative rants about Brazil almost everyday and unfortunately they are almost always truth.
Cars are too expensive and crappy, too hot, their is no A/C, electronics are too expensive, the bureacracy this and that...etc...etc..and there is absolutely nothing for me to say about that, because they are true.
But if someone writes a personal impression of Brazil that has nothing to do with the truth, I just feel like putting the real facts out there...
I was holding my breath and counting to 10 until I read that evergreens don't grow in Brazil and we don't have natural Christmas trees...that was it, I had to write the truth about it.
Thanks again for your comment.
We are gonna stay home baking Brazilian Christmas cookies recipes my mother emailed me yesterday, the snow is already coming down hard.
I will share them with you.
Hope you had a Merry Christmas.

;)

Ray

Fiona said...

The christmas cookie blog aside, I am curious if you've tried Christmas Stollen. It is absolutely delicious, a bit more like pannetone than christmas cake is. Another stolen tradition (get it-- stolen-stollen? heheh) from Germany

Gil and Ray said...

Dear Fiona,

Absolutely, my grandmother, who is of German origin always made it, in Brazil it is called "Stollen de Natal".
It is definitely sweeter than your typical Panetone. My grandma also made some variations because some of the grandchildren didn't like raisins, so she made it with chocolate chips. I have head that some people also replace the raisis with "goiabada" bits, it sounds delicious.
Thanks Fiona! This is the ultimate, perfect example to my original point!
We "stollen" Christmas traditions from Europe ;)


Ray

Gil and Ray said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gil and Ray said...

A Blog is a PUBLIC vehicle for facilitating an exchange of views. So, being a PUBLIC way to reach to people, it should be used with some caution, good common sense, responsibility and, why not, a bit of elegance? The person who decides to move to another country should expect it from the very beginning. The land where you live now IS NOT YOUR HOME COUNTRY, after all! I know it's not always easy to accept what seems to be odd or simply unusual through your eyes. But it's your moral obligation to accept things the way they are, the SAME way we, foreigners living in your country are expected to do when we move there. It's our obligation to adapt to the place we're living in, not the other way around. I must say that as a Brazilian, I don't like lots of typically Brazilian things. For example, I couldn't care less about soccer games. I hate every expression of the worldwide famous Brazilian carnival. I absolutely cannot stand the uncomfortable heat in certain parts of the country. I don't like to be stared (Brazilians, in general, are very curious people and will not be shy to stare at you if you happen to catch their attention for some reason). I don't eat rice and beans every day because I find it to be absolutely boring (this typical Iberian-American cultural trait is changing now in Brazil by the way). I hate samba music! I despise the infamous Brazilian "jeitinho" (ways to go around the rules to abuse the system). I'm not fond of beach settings nor palm trees. Nevertheless, I have a lot of reasons to be a freaking proud Brazilian, reasons that I cannot put in simple words here and, even if I could, most certainly you would not understand it fully simply because you're not Brazilian.

Gil and Ray said...

No, I am not being bias here! By the way, avoiding being bias is just one of my favorite moral exercises - because I don't like to catch myself being exclusive or pushing away people because of my prejudices, ignorance or simply stubborn unwillingness to accept what's different from what I know. That said, I sincerely love many characteristics of the Brazilian people and their enviroment. For example, I miss the friendliness and affectionate nature of Brazilians. I also miss the sweet smell of the grass in the countryside. I love the happiness and energy I feel when I look at the tropical plants, trees and birds. I find amusing to see a typical temperate tree, like an American Sycamore living next to an elegant Royal Palm Tree or a delicate and romantic Cherry Tree in bloom next to a luxuriant mango tree. Yes, it's the miracle provided by the (SUB)tropical climate of the Brazilian Highlands. However it's ridiculous, to say the least, to write that there are no evergreens in Brazil to set up Christmas trees! There are pine trees plantations here and there, more specifically, spruce plantations - which is the kind of evergreen (southern) Brazilians seem to prefer to use to set up Christmas trees. If all she can see are artificial Christmas trees around her, it's NOT because the real ones don't exist in Brazil, it is just that the people surrounding her happen to have plastic Christmas trees, period! Not stopping there, she goes on to the absurd at declaring the lack of everygreens in Brazil and the lack of Christmas cookies she said she never saw them anywhere (she should see my Christmas table). Yes, a lot of families enjoy Christmas cookies, but certainly cookies are not a Christmas staple in every Brazilian home. Christmas in Brazil is moslty a time to be outdoors, being relaxed, going to the beach, wearing light clothes, walking on flip-flops, etc. Not a lot of Brazilians like to stuff their faces with Christmas cookies at this (hot) time of the year. Christmas is like this in Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Chile and, of course, every other southern hemisphere nations celebration Christmas in the heat of the summertime. Nevertheless, the Brazilian Santa Claus still wears the traditional European heavy velour red custom while bearing the hot weather, not speedos as ironically suggested by the misinformed blogger. Really, have you ever heard of Santas showing themselves semi naked in Hawaii or Florida?! By the way, our fellow blogger said something about palm trees replacing pine trees in a very sarcastic way! Another pinch to show her frustrations? So, give me a break saying that in Brazil Christmas is all about fake stuff and no traditions! Each family or social group have their own way to celebrate Christmas in Brazil. Seems like some people never learn that generalizing about Brazil is stupid. What appalls me the most is the sheer ignorance certain expats show about the adopted country they're living misinforming readers through their blogs with their distorted notions of what Brazil. Definitely, Brazil is NOT for begginers!
Finally, I paid a visit to my next door neighbors on the afternoon of Christmas day and gues what - I found them happily drinking their cold beer and snacking on Cheeto's while watching TV! Should I presume this is an American Christmas tradition or a lack of thereof... Really?! Beer and Cheetos?! Worse of all, everything "being witssened" by a shabby glistening ARTIFICIAL Christmas tree!!! Omy!!! It SHOULD be a TRADITIONAL American Christmas, for God's sake!!!! Where are my traditional Christmas Cookies? Where??? Whatta sacrilege!!!! Oh, yeah, just for the record, my neighbors are A M E R I C A N S! Conclusion: my little experience with my neighbors do not define a whole country. Give me a break, little fellow blogger!


Gil

Linds said...

Really Gil... I understand you're frustrated but you are taking the feelings and opinions of our fellow blogger VERY personally.

It's perfectly normal to feel homesick, angry and frustrated at times. It's especially understandable around times that hold a lot of significance for many North Americans.

The fact is, whether it's a Brazilian holiday or N.American holiday or not, N.Americans really value Christmas time - arguably more than any holiday all year.

It's very traditional, repeating itself in a certain way year after year and also being marketed (even in Brazil) as a snowy holiday full of a specific kind of tree and specific types of food ... you can't get offended by someone elses desire for their tradition just because they live in another country now.

Would anyone ever expect you to drop your Brazilian pride (which is clearly a sore spot for you) and favourite personal traditions because you now live in the United States?

You are being very offensive in your response to a blogger who was simply expressing her sadness during this important time of the year - something that erases the merit to any 'truths' you might be providing perspective on....

Just an observation... but I don't believe your outright criticism of a person who you haven't kept anonymous is a fair response to a personal journal.

Gil and Ray said...

Dear Lindsey,

You understand he is frustrated! Really?
You just wrote a 7 paragraph comment on this blog to defend someone he didn't mention by name and by the way wasn't offensive at all in my opinion.
He is making a comment on his own blog not mentioning anyone, any post or any blog by name because he felt he needed to correct some untruths that are not only found in one blog or one post but in many post of Expats who just arrived in Brazil, usually are not familiar with culture at all, and use Brazil and Brazilian culture as a punching bag for their own personal frustrations.
The problem is when you do that in a public forum, you are naturally exposing yourself to criticism from the very people belonging to the country and culture you have offended.
Thanks for you comment. I appreciate your honesty and interest.


Ray

Gil and Ray said...

Really Gil... I understand you're frustrated but you are taking the feelings and opinions of our fellow blogger VERY personally.
R: Linds, I'm glad to know you understand all about FRUSTRATION, but you're dead wrong when you say I'm taking feelings and opinions of our fellow blogger "VERY personally. I'm just correcting her and trying to educate her about my culture, a culture that she seems not to comprehend, maybe because she arrived "just yesterday". Perhaps I'd appear less sensitive to the topic she discussed if not for her subtle sarcasm in some points. Some other blogger once said that we Brazilian are very senstitive to criticism to our country - an accusation I don't buy. According to my own experience it's exactly the same with Americans.


It's perfectly normal to feel homesick, angry and frustrated at times. It's especially understandable around times that hold a lot of significance for many North Americans.
R: I totally agree with you. However, there are ways and ways to do that, right? You just don't want to look bad venting your anger and/or frustrations in public, specially when you should know that doing so you're exposing yourself to criticism. "Elementary, my dear Watson"! Doing it in private should be a much better idea. I have my own frustrations and anger HERE caused by some culture traits I still have a hard time to grasp, but I don't intend to use my blog as an outlet because I AM an American too, so I don't want to offend my American fellows complaining about things that are NOT their fault. But if THEY talk s... about my other country, specially when they ARE living there, I am sorry, but I'll let them know what I think.

The fact is, whether it's a Brazilian holiday or N.American holiday or not, N.Americans really value Christmas time - arguably more than any holiday all year.
R: Well, I've known a couple of Americans that don't give a damn for Christmas. Some of them even HATE it. I also know Brazilians that love Christmas so much that when you enter their homes you would think you're in the Austrian heartland. So what?

Gil and Ray said...

It's very traditional, repeating itself in a certain way year after year and also being marketed (even in Brazil) as a snowy holiday full of a specific kind of tree and specific types of food ... you can't get offended by someone elses desire for their tradition just because they live in another country now.
R: I DID NOT get offended, trust me! Once again I agree with you. Yes, Christmas is marketed around the world as a snowy holiday full of specific kind of tree and types of food, so it's natural that someone from a snowy northern hemisphere place with strong northern European background will miss a Christmas the way she/he is used to. BUT, let's remember that one cannot ridicule or dismiss the way Christmas is celebrated in other places of the world, specially when this place is a TROPICAL one, where, obviously, there's no snow, hardly you see a natural pine tree and, much less, certain Christmas delicacies. Speaking of Brazil, in general, you're most likely to see a more European like Christmas celebration among southerns (Rio Grande do Sul, Sta. Catarina, Paraná, S. Paulo and the highlands of Minas Gerais and Rio de Janeiro) while northerns (northern migrants in the south or southern people with northern background) most likely will have their own kind of Christmas (barbecue, farofa, popular music, party like gathering, dance, etc.).

Would anyone ever expect you to drop your Brazilian pride (which is clearly a sore spot for you) and favourite personal traditions because you now live in the United States?
R: I am a proud Brazilian as much I am a proud American, so bad mouth Brazil or the United States and sure you will hear what I have to say - specially in my own blog.

You are being very offensive in your response to a blogger who was simply expressing her sadness during this important time of the year - something that erases the merit to any 'truths' you might be providing perspective on....
R: OFFENSIVE?! Me?! Really! Please, point me where I was "offensive" and I'll be glad to discuss it with you. I don't care what you think on erasing the merit to any "truths" I might be providing. I'm pretty much in peace with my own conscience. I know EXACTLY what I'm doing here. I just want to educate foreigners about my own country/culture, nothing more, nothing less.

Just an observation... but I don't believe your outright criticism of a person who you haven't kept anonymous is a fair response to a personal journal.
R: Ray already answered this one for me, but I will repeat what he said. Although I reacted to HER post, I just wanted to cover with my response all the expats or immigrants out there that keep repeating the same old mistake of generalizing about Brazil. I am from S. Paulo state, and I am a Brazilian and Italian citizen. S. Paulo IS NOT a typical tropical Brazilian place like Rio e Janeiro or Salvador. My culture is pretty much European, although I love many other cultural expressions in other parts of Brazil. I love Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, Fortaleza or Natal the same way I love Rio Grande do Sul, Sta. Catarina, Minas Gerais (specially the mountainous south of the state), places that I had de privilege to know. So, there's no need "tomar as dores de outra pessoa", as we say in good Portuguese. Our fellow blogger can speak for herself.

Thanks, Linds, for your interest in responding my post. I sincerely hope you have a wonderful TYPICAL Carioca New Years Eve - my favorite! ; )

Gil