Last week I announced I would start a series of “very (nationality) habits”, based on my nomad experience around the world! The idea is to have fun pointing out things that stood out the most for me during the time I lived in a specific country and that also seemed like a pattern among citizens. The first article was on Germany, which you can read here, and today´s post will be about my home country, Brazil!
Actually, amongst the 5 countries I want to write about, I feel this is the hardest! Hey, don´t give me that frowned look! It is a lot easier to see and perceive cultural habits as an outsider than as an insider. Though all of these articles usually reflect my point of view and my point of view only, I did want this one to have a more “general perceived idea” of customs of Brazilians, which is hard to do as a national since you can mix up with your and your family´s own particular habits. So, for this one I have teamed up with my German husband, who helped me come up with 5 very Brazilian habits!
Though Brazil is more and more following the global trend of reducing meat consumption, we are still very much carnivores. A 2013 research (the most recent data available) placed Brazil as number 6 in the list of countries that eat the most meat. The fact is that it has become a staple food in family and friends´gatherings, especially the very traditional sunday family barbecue, which revolves 100% around grilled meat in the barbecue pit. The side dishes, mostly farofa (toasted flour mixture) and rice, are there basically to ornate the star food. The country is a renowned meat producer and Brazilians are proud of it.
Though things are changing, don´t expect to be invited to a barbecue at someone´s house and see bell peppers, corn or anything vegetarian as a choice. If you don´t eat meat, say it, or you will most likely end up eating rice and farofa for the rest of the day.
BEACH EVERYDAY EVERYWHERE FLIP-FLOPS
Yeah, we do love them. It is something so rooted that when I saw a German tv show bashing the Havaianas badly I actually took it personally, lol! How dare they?! But then I calmed down….After all, people that wear socks and sandals can´t possibly know anything about shoewear (lol, joking! I´m actually a fan….shhh!). The tv show made me literally go into a cultural crisis and question myself if we, Brazilians, are so used to it that we don´t actually realize how uncomfortable they are. Is that possible?!! All I can say is that I love them, and most of the Brazilians I know love them too.
One funny thing I only realized when my husband went to Brazil and talked to me about it was that wearing flip-flops everywhere is something not that expected by foreigners. Though these kind of sandals are very much associated with Brazilian beach, sun and sand (something the brands themselves pretty much explore in every commercial), we don´t see them as “beach shoes” only. In Brazil it is very common to wear them everywhere: to the shopping mall, to the movies, to a friend´s house….though I disagree it is the best shoe to travel in, I have even seen it in airplanes too, more often than I would like to, actually.
They might not be the most elegant shoewear, but they are easy to find, relatively cheap (in Brazil, at least!), they give you that vacation laid-back feeling….You can´t blame us, can you? 😉
Havaianas are not the only ones in the market though. If you want to check out my favorite flip flop brand in Brazil, click here.
This is not coming from an angry writer who has been stood up for hours and now is taking up revenge. This is hardly a criticism. I mean, I do know being late is not something to be proud of at all, but in Brazil it is something common that has no disrespect meant nor is it something we do consciously. It is just common knowledge that, if you schedule to meet a friend at a restaurant at 7 pm, you both will probably arrive around 7:15 – 7:20pm. If you have been invited to a party at somebody´s house and you don´t arrive at least an hour late, it is very likely you will be the first to be there…and even surprise the host (this doesn´t apply to dinner parties though).
I know it´s hard to understand. I usually say that Brazil is such a beautiful country with such natural beauty, that time passes by differently there: it´s so easy to just sit, enjoy the landscape, and forget the track of time! A romanticized excuse? Might well be. It probably is. I actually learned the importance of being on time when I moved to Germany. Now I´m the girl that usually sits alone at a restaurant in Brazil for at least half an hour before my friends arrive!
GREETING STRANGERS WITH A HUG OR KISSES ON THE CHEEK
Now this is another thing I learned the hard way I shouldn´t be doing when outside of Brazil. But it just comes so naturally! I still remember when I was visiting a friend in a tiny village in Austria, and when I was introduced to an Austrian friend of his I immediately kissed her twice on the cheek to her complete horror. I felt very confused and even a bit insulted until I realized….well, I was crossing a huge cultural boundary. I mean, you can recognize a very well rooted habit when you do it so automatically that it doesn´t even cross your mind that it might be extremely disrespectful and/or uncomfortable to others.
After this episode I became much more cautious of what I do when I´m abroad. But don´t be surprised if in Brazil people you meet for the first time hug you or give you two kisses on the cheek. We don´t know how to do it any other way!
I was debating over this one, because if you tell me Brazilian bikinis are small, I would argue that maybe the ones you know are big? Isn´t this supposed to be relative? But I guess that when you compare Brazilian bikinis to the ones sold around the world….hmm…yeah, ours are on the smaller side. Still, we don´t think they are uncomfortable or too revealing, it´s just the way they have always been.
Though it is rarely mentioned, the same habit applies to the guys. Beach shorts are common, but speedos are everywhere and, I would dare to say, more loved! I tried to buy one for my husband, however, he said he would never wear it. It is indeed not for everyone, I totally get it. Still, to all of the guys out there, I will leave a piece of advice by quoting a cool song by Caviar from the 2000´s: “no woman can resist a man who looks good in a speedo” *wink wink*