Tis the Season| Natural Language Institute

Insights and Experiences


Tis the Season

By Rita Elena Daniel - 24/dec/2015 #History, Culture, and the Arts

The North American blood pulsing through my veins makes me really kind of miss the cold weather. This is something that I might’ve never expected myself to admit, but it is true—especially at this time of the year, when somehow I feel that my body is bracing itself for the cold weather, but it’s just not happening! Being from Virginia, I have had the pleasure of witnessing all four distinctive seasons throughout the year, which includes frosty winter mornings and a (debatably) decent amount of snowfall per year. Although we Virginians often find ourselves celebrating Christmas on tepid  December days, the experience surely isn’t anything that rivals the heat which we are feeling here in Brasília.

It’s a bit strange, then, that by North American standards, it’s time for caroling in the snow and snuggling by the fireside, hot cocoa in hand. These days, my favorite classic Christmas songs, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” “Let It Snow,” and “Winter Wonderland,” have a distinctly ironic quality as I listen and cannot even fathom the frigid winter days that I usually endure when it’s Christmas. However, I can’t complain about this amazing opportunity to spend Christmas, or Natal, in a sundress, liberated from the dreaded bulky winter coat! Although it is a bit strange, I can still feel the Christmas spirit in the city.

When I say “spirit,” one thing that comes to mind is the decorations in the city. The malls and many neighborhoods around town have not let me
down in terms of elaborate Christmas scenery. Like in the U.S., Brazilians enjoy putting up fake pine trees, placing bows, wreaths, garlands, lights, and ornaments on everything. I know that in the U.S. many people groan about how prematurely we start decorating for Christmas, but I say this without a shred of exaggeration: the malls in Brasília have been decorated for Christmas since late October! Whether it’s sheer desire for the Christmas celebration or for stimulating the economy is debatable, but for me unimportant— I happen to think the decorations are enjoyable either way.

So, although I am slightly confused about Christmas weather, Brasília is certainly a pleasant and festive place to be, especially since I have felt the Christmas “love.” My students have spoiled me with sweet gifts and kind blessings for the holidays, and an amigo secreto, or secret Santa, experience at work was another friendly and quaint way of celebrating Christmas. Yet, as far as I can tell, there aren’t very many disparities between the celebrations in the U.S. and Brazil. The only thing that might be considered a significant difference is that here, Christmas dinner takes place on Christmas Eve, the 24th .Usually, Americans feast on Christmas Day, the 25th, either during the afternoon or in the early evening. Foods commonly eaten for Christmas in Brazil include main dishes made of cod, or bacalhau, a chicken/turkey hybrid called “Chester,” a dessert resembling French toast called rabanada, and the traditional Italian sweet bread, panettone. I cannot speak for the cod or the “Chester,” but because I am a die-hard lover of sweets, I have already tried both desserts and can confirm that the Brazilian Christmas feast has a deliciously sweet finale!

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