Information About Brazil - Culture
Brazil is an amazing blend of traditions. Walking about in a Brazilian city, one's senses are thoroughly bombarded with cultural aspects which are uniquely and definitely Brazilian, though the acute observer can detect traces of cultural expressions stemming from Europe and Africa. These aspects include cuisine, music, dance, flora, fauna, sports, literature, architecture, and the ways of the people. Capoeira, for example, is a martial art, which was brought to Brazil directly from Angola and other African countries. To fool the plantation owners, African slaves played the berimbau, a unique African percussion instrument, and chanted while they practiced capoeira in the form of a dance. Today, capoeira is a classic Brazilian sport, practiced by both sexes, and continues to be accompanied by the berimbau and traditional chants.
Although 90 percent of the country is within the tropical zone, more than 60 percent of the population lives in areas where altitude, sea winds, or old polar fronts moderate the temperature. The geographical location of Brazil influences its climatic diversity. The northern most region is on the Equator and the southern most region is below the Tropic of capricorn. The climate here is a function of latitude and altitude and it varies from north to south and from east to west, creating five different climatic regions throughout the country: equatorial, tropical, semi arid, highland tropical, and subtropical. Temperatures range from very hot and dry in the northeast, humid and rainy in the Amazon to frosty temperatures below zero, and in extreme cases snow, in the south west interior of Brazil. The distinct weather between regions may also contribute to the different lifestyles that abound here. Weather by region Brazil is an excellent choice all year around. You can check the weather according to your preferences with the information below.
Brazil can be described as the world's biggest studio, or stage. It seems as if the great majority of its population are artists of some sort, so artistic expression appears anywhere and anytime in the weirdest and most wonderful ways. A match box in the hands of a Brazilian can become as captivating as a tambourine, and sufficient to get a roomful of people singing and dancing. Someone inspired to sing a few notes of a popular song can provoke a bus or plane full of strangers to break into song in unison. A gathering of friends simply doesn't happen without an acoustic guitar, or a ukulele, or a tambourine. Entire stadiums sing their team songs in unison, or create impromptu cheers to irritate the opponents. The world's top pop and rock artists stop singing while on stage to listen to forty thousand fans singing their songs.
The state of Bahia is considered a vortex of cultural production. The musical rhythms that originate in Bahia are extremely contagious, and the variety of music and dance is enormous. In fact, music and dance are essential to all Brazilians, as if they must manipulate rhythms in order to physically manifest their love for life.
There is a yearly phenomenon in Brazil, which is a cyclical explosion and profusion of music and dance expression. It's called carnival. In Bahia the carnival is a massive street party. The carnival clubs are led by musicians and bands who record new songs to be revealed at carnival time. During the 5 days of carnival they ride through the streets atop their trio eletricos (18-wheeler trucks transformed into mobile stages, using the most advanced technology). There are dozens of trio eletricos which follow two main circuits in the city center and have bands on top of them playing for hours on end. Each song has its own dance and choreography, which everyone learns during the world's biggest street party, carnival in Salvador.
The carnival traditions in Rio are quite a bit different. The carnival clubs are called samba schools which involve entire communities in a year long preparation for the earth's greatest visual spectacle. Carnival in Rio is more of a spectator sport, though it is not difficult to get a last minute invitation to parade with samba school.
For those who appreciate architecture, the variety found in Brazil will astound the adept eye. Few places in the world boast 16th century Iberian architecture, and even fewer have private offices, governmental departments and restaurants utilizing these magnificent buildings.
Brasilia, the capital of Brazil since 1960, was conceived and designed by modern architects Lucio Costa, Oscar Niemeyer, and Roberto Burle Marx. Another UNESCO World Heritage Site, Brasilia has impressed the most demanding architectural and urban planning minds.
Language and Literature
Brazilian Portuguese is beautifully melodic and classically romantic, thus lending itself to prose and lyrics. In the second half of the 20th century, two writers received major international acclaim. The first was Jorge Amado, a regionalist writer whose novels are folk stories depicting the way of life in Bahia. Amado was a genius at capturing the color, flavor and motivation for living in their naked essence. The second is Paulo Coelho, a mystical writer whose fable-like fiction incorporates motivational self help messages.
Modern communication and marketing is such that Coelho's novels have sold more editions than any other Brazilian writer. In the sixties and seventies, Paulo Coelho wrote the lyrics for Raul Seixas, often described as a Brazil's Jim Morrison. Traditional literary critics do not accept Coelho's work as authentic literature, but his numbers led to his being selected into Brazil's prestigious Literature Association.
Carlos Drummond de Andrade, perhaps the greatest modern writer of Brazil, reveals in his short and austere poetry, the complexity of the dullness of modern life. Women are also very well represented in literature: poets and writers such as Cecilia Meireles and Lygia Fagundes Teles fascinate their readers with their rich linguistics and original metaphors, and the sharp-short narrative of La Paixao Segundo G.H. by Clarice Lispector would attract and satisfy the most exigent readers.
Besides the language, the Portuguese influence can also be found in the religion. Brazil?s official religion is Roman Catholic and boasts the biggest Catholic population in the world, though different regions practice different traditions.
As a melting pot country, it integrates elements from Native Indians and Africans creating rites of religious syncretism. In Northeast Brazil, and especially in Bahia, African traditions mixed with Catholicism in such a way that almost every Christian has an African protector, and almost all Candomblé practitioners are guarded by Christian Saints.
Southern Brazil, on the other hand, has three very different religious traditions: Protestant (the majority), Catholic and the Candomblé adepts, who instead of using African food use German and Italian food to make offerings to their deities. Also, Allan Kardec's spiritualism is well practiced among most Brazilians.
In the Amazon or in the Pantanal (south central swamp regions), there are various exotic Indian traditions. Two which have gained international attention are the Santo Daime and the União Vegetal, both based on the hallucinogenic experience one has after drinking ayuasca tea. Moving on to the interior of the northeast region, one may find traditions of live saints, simple men that can cure with the power of their prayers. They may live as hermits in caves, or in their own houses in small communities. Though these saints believe in Catholicism, they are not recognized by the Church.