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Bits of Brazil-- Christmas Celebration Part 4

Thursday, December 09, 2010

"Boas Festas" is what you would be hearing, instead of Merry Christmas. Brazil has history with Portuguese foundations but in today's world, it is a veritable melting pot of people from all over the world.

Traditional Christmas involves Le Presepio, or The Nativity scene and these little replicas are found in homes, stores and in the churches. The term presepio goes back to a Hebrew word for "straw bed" or what we would term the manger.

Los Pastores (The Shepherds) is again, a folk play but in Brazil they show female shepherdesses AND they include a plotting gypsy who is trying to kidnap baby Jesus. What a unique twist to the story!

Santa has infiltrated Brazilian culture but he is known as Papai Noel. People will tell you that he lives in Greenland but visits wearing silk clothes to withstand the heat of their climate. Woo hoo!

Yum, yum-- it's time to talk food: Brazilians pull out all the stops and share turkey, chicken, ham, beans, coloured rice and fresh veggies and fresh fruit that would make your eyes pop out. (Think, beautiful colours) The big feast is held on Christmas Eve.

Church attendance is changing. Historically there was a midnight mass for Catholics, but due to an awareness of crime (yes, even on Christmas), many families go to a service in the afternoon of December 24th.

Fresh flowers abound. These folks are not limiting themselves to pointsettias! And just when you think you can't stand anymore wonders to your senses... Brazil holds fantastic firework displays on Christmas Day.

Festivities last until January 6, known as Three Kings Day. The population gives the nod to the magi who searched out the holy family and brought the gifts of gold, frankencence and myrhh.

The day after this celebration is the time that all the Nativity Scenes are put away until next year.

Do you think you would enjoy a Christmas the way the Brazilians celebrate?

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

NOLAZYBUTT110 12/10/2010 12:32PM

    Before many came to America Christmas was a Universel Holy Time and we all celebrated it accordingly. But since Prez Clinton, everything has been slowly become so Incorrect Politically to celebrate Christ birth! Sad to say but as Americans we are fast becoming a Nation of Unbelievers and Illiterates about our own Founding fathers Beliefs in Christ! The more immoral we get the more we forget our past Religious beliefs. Sad but true!

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IUHRYTR 12/10/2010 10:08AM

    What a sight that must be. Sounds absolutely enchanting. -- Lou

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YIGOBUTTERFLY 12/10/2010 4:40AM

    Interesting. Some of it sounds like Guam.

Jane on Guam

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ONCEMOREAGAIN 12/9/2010 8:37PM

    Wow, I think celebrating like the Brazilians would be great! I can just imagine all the fruits and vegetables and colors!!!! I collect nativities. I have 13 different ones and one of my most favorite is the ones from Ireland. Mary, Joseph, Baby Jesus and the Angel all wear white and have borders of shamrocks around their robes. It is a porcelain set and I love it.

Thanks for posting these blogs about the different cultures. I find them most interesting and fascinating.

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ESHTEMOA 12/9/2010 3:13PM

    Yes I will because it sounds similar to Trinidad's christmas in some instances.Thank you for this blog GOSPELCLOWN.

Comment edited on: 12/9/2010 3:14:48 PM

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Tidbits About Holiday Traditions in Russia

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Christmas in Russia includes special prayers of the season. Many people get involved with fasting for 39 days before Christmas and break the fast on Chrismas Eve as soon as the first star is seen in the night sky.

Their Christmas Eve falls on January 6th. They prepare a 12 course meal (one for each of the Apostles.) Borsch (beet soup) and stuffed cabbage will be on the menu. Expect to taste some honey for the sweet things in life and garlic for the challenges ahead.

The orthodox Russian Christmas lasts for six days. Some of the symbolism in their home would include a white tablecloth to remind them of the swaddling clothes of baby Jesus. A bit of hay can be spread around to show that He was born into poverty and humble beginnings. A white candle is used to say, "He is the light of the world." Each home would produce a round loaf of bread to reinforce that Christ is the Bread of Life.

One tradition is to draw a cross on the forehead of family members... in honey!

New Years Eve is often celebrated and a Festival of Winter is more popular than the old styled Christmas traditions. If you hear about Grandfather Frost, you are probably listening to a Russian telling about New Year's Eve.

It seems that this friendly character, with the help of his granddaughter, Snowmaiden, leave gifts on New Year's Eve. Russian children hope to find candy from Grandfather Frost.

The young people have to show that they have been good, so poems are read aloud and many songs are sung as proof of their good behaviour.

Because a Russian Christmas is after January first, their habits may seem backward to us.

A final Christmas tradition I will leave with you involves the old ladies, affectionately called The Babushkas. (grandmothers) The fable goes, that the Wise Men asked the way to the stable & would the old lady travel with them to show the way. It was too cold for The Babushka to go, so she lost the privilege of seeing the Christ child. Years later she regretted her decision, so she shared small gifts in her basket with the neighbourhood children.
Now the older women hide treasures for the young to find in their Christmas baskets too.

Aren't you glad Christmas isn't preceeded by 39 days of fasting??? Yikes!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ONCEMOREAGAIN 12/9/2010 8:43PM

    I don't think I would do too well in the 39 days of fasting. I have trouble with one or two!! Such a wonderful tradition, though. Very interesting!

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PANSYLADY2 12/9/2010 9:54AM

    Don't know about anyone else, but when I first stated Spark People, I THOUGHT I was fasting!

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NELLIEC 12/8/2010 7:15PM

    I suppose that is the same as Jesus fasting in the wilderness, minus one day.

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IUHRYTR 12/8/2010 5:54PM

    That would sure lead to weight loss, wouldn't it? Not too healthy, maybe, but interesting to learn of different cultures. -- Lou

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SWEETYKINS012 12/8/2010 2:04PM

    it all sounds very interesting, and more in keeping of the the true reason for the season. the birth of christ. americans make it all too comercial and to make money from it.

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LITTLE_QUEEN 12/8/2010 1:34PM

    39 days of fasting! Wow! I would sure be camped out waiting for that first star.

I think old Russia would be fasinating to visit

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Christmas Traditions in Mexico

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Feliz Navidad!
In Mexico, many festivities are celebrated outdoors because the weather is warmer. Greetings are shared to remember El Nino Dios ( the Christ Child).

Starting December 16 and running nine evenings, candlelight processions or "wanderings" are held in communities. Las Pasadas are symbolic of the Holy Family trying to find lodging when there was no room in town. A different home is chosen each night to host the event. People knock on two 'wrong' doors and the third home allows them inside.

Plays called Pastorelas tell the story of the shepherds looking for the infant and following the angel message.

For 2 weeks carols or haciendo ramas are sung. These are lively and entertaining.

Stalls are set up in town. Traditionally these sell the food and articles needed to set up your nativity set. A stall is known as a puesto and the manger scene is called el Nacimiento. Each year a new figure can be bought and added to the nativity scene at your house!

If a family is Catholic, a mass on Christmas Eve (misa de gallo) is attended and then a meal at home is enjoyed. That same night, the gifts are opened, games are played and sparklers are lit to the delight of the little ones. If you have a pinata to hit with a stick, expect to find peanuts, oranges and tangerines inside. Hard candy is popular also.

Christmas Day is for relaxing and being with family. Leftovers are eaten.

January 6th is El Dia de Reyes where the day of the Kings or magi are celebrated. Children will put their shoes near the window for a treat to be hidden inside. Some family give new shoes on January 6. Hot chocolate is shared and a large bread wreath with dried fruit and sprinkled sugar is eaten. (This symbolizes Christ as the Bread of Life)
Watch out-- there is a hidden ceramic baby hidden in the loaf. The person who receives the slice of bread wreath containing the babe is the godparent of Baby Jesus and is expected to make up a christening gown (ropon) for the next celebration... on February 2.

Known as a time of purification, this tradition is named El Dia de la Candelaria. Translated as the Day of Light or the Day of the Candle. Jesus is known as the light coming into the world. The nativity set is put away on February 2nd.

I have a friend from Mexico. She never told me how many days and nights the Mexican festivities can entail. Imagine starting December 16 and partying nine nights in a row and finishing up on February 2nd?

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  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SWEETYKINS012 12/8/2010 2:28PM

    another example of the true reason for the season, jesus and not santa....

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PANSYLADY2 12/7/2010 10:14PM

    And Feliz Navidad to you, too!

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HUZZAH39 12/7/2010 7:38PM

    Thanks for sharing about these festivities. I learned a lot!

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NELLIEC 12/7/2010 3:03PM

    I have participated in a Posada. My mother and grandmother taught at a school in El Paso, TX, supported by the Methodist church, for Mexicans and Mexican Americans. My mom and I were invited to one celebration.

Freddy is correct about the celebration which is additional for the Virgin of Guadalupe, who is the patron saint of Mexico. I know about her since I grew up in El Paso and also since my birthday is December 12.

It is wonderful that the emphasis is on the Christ child and not on Santa Claus!

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FREDDY1232 12/7/2010 1:42PM

    Thanks for the information Karen that's really interesting. I am Catholic and half of our parish is hispanic. I know they celebrate the feast of our Lady of Guadalupe, the patron saint of Mexico. They decorate the church mexican style and make a special alter with our lady's statue. But I really never knew about all those traditions. Sadly the hispanics go to a separate Masses from us gringos. They have spanish speaking masses and rarely attend our masses. Agriculture is very big here with lots of farms. Many of the hispanics work in the fields. Our church has 600 families and approximately 300 hispanic families. We have tried to consolidate us into one church but with out success. As it is we seem to have two different churches. Thanks for the info.

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IUHRYTR 12/7/2010 1:22PM

    Always enjoy learning of other cultures. Thanks for the insight. -- Lou

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ONCEMOREAGAIN 12/7/2010 1:04PM

    Wow, thank you for sharing this. I never knew any of the Christmas traditions in Mexico. It is most interesting.

What a time of festivities!!

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Happy St. Nicholas Day

Monday, December 06, 2010

In many regions of the world, today is a happy celebration for children. In Europe especially, the young have polished their shoes, made their room tidy and helped out their parents because they want to be "good".

You see, the good and well behaved kiddies expect to find chocolates, fruit or nuts in their shoes today. The "bad" and misbehaving children will find coal, twigs or a potato in their footwear. (Oh, the embarrassment!)

I have a lifelong buddy who has German parents. I got to learn her family's traditions and see Christmas in another light. I just sent her an email to wish her a happy St. Nicholas Day. Unfortunately, her daughter is away at university, so my buddy can't act as the saint. Nor will my friend find a chocolate in her shoe, as her parents live in another town.

The email was the best I could do from 4,000 kilometers away. Believe me, if anyone deserved a chocolate or a shoe full of delicious nuts... it would be my highschool buddy, Doris!

Do you know anyone who celebrates St. Nicholas Day?

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

PANSYLADY2 12/6/2010 6:58PM

    It is fascinating to see how other cultures celebrate Christmas and the traditions that surround them. There are often marked similarities as well as difference, but the similarities really stick out.

Happy St. Nicholas Day to you, and may you find peace and joy during this time of celebration!

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LACEEJO11 12/6/2010 2:50PM

That is a new one for me! I love to learn about other cultures, and traditions that are different from ours!! This is really KOOL, and I can well imagine a lot of German folks, who are now older, have cherished memories of finding that coveted chocolate in their shoe!! I wonder who ever thought that one up??

Happy St. Nicholas day to you!!

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Comment edited on: 12/6/2010 2:50:41 PM

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FREDDY1232 12/6/2010 1:46PM

    I've never heard of this tradition. But it's good to recognise the different Saint days. I think it's wonderful that you've kept in touch with an old friend..Old friends are the best friends!

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PUPPETGIRLKY 12/6/2010 1:15PM


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IUHRYTR 12/6/2010 1:11PM

    An interesting tradition. emoticon -- Lou

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LITTLE_QUEEN 12/6/2010 1:08PM

    I love these old traditions

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KATYBUG48 12/6/2010 12:50PM

  My mother used to as a child. She is from Germany
Merry Christmas

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Best Fun I've Had in Years

Monday, November 15, 2010

Last night, the people I work with, along with their significant others, all met for an early Christmas party.

We had a delightful appetizer and martini visit in the home of one of the owners of the company. I tried a little of the 4 dips and the crackers. I enjoyed one martini and later, a glass of red wine.
I knew I was indulging but I enjoyed the flavours totally and got to let my hair down with the folks I work with and a few others that I only talk to on the phone.
emoticon It turns out that I work with some rather nice people!

We moved the party downstairs to a bistro when all the participants had arrived and there was some more bread to nibble and some tasty spread to act as the restaurant's appetizer. Amazingly, the bread basket was not attacked-- so that proved to me that I CAN resist the snacking temptation (it was after 8 pm by this time.)

The bistro served lovely portions! The food was incredible too. There was a nice variety of entrees that were all artfully presented. I felt spoiled in a good way.

When the server came back to the table to take the dessert orders... I happened to be taking a bathroom break. Did I feel deprived? Not one little bit. (More triumph!) It was a WOO HOO moment.

Now the best fun part-- the bosses footed the bill for a karaoke machine to enjoy after the dinner. A-hem! Hand over the mic and nobody gets hurt...

I knew enought to let the boss and her hubby sing the first duet. Then a fellow slaughtered a song... I cheerleaded them on. When everybody was encouraging everybody else to attempt a tune, I got my chance to take the floor.
(Did I ever mention that I can be a bit of a ham??)

I haven't sung karaoke for 3 years and it was as fun as I could remember when I used to sing weekly with my dad at his Legion. (Hangout for war vets & their family.)

We all stayed out too late and got loud and crazy. The songs got silly and the dancing was no threat to the 'Dancing With The Stars' show. It was fun. I think everyone there laughed and enjoyed the night out.

I sipped water until it was time to go home. I not only had to drive home, but I was the only employee that had a shift the next day. So I behaved and I wanted to let my Spark pals know that I had fun by exercising moderation!!

... except when it came to the singing part!


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

YIGOBUTTERFLY 11/21/2010 3:50AM

    What a ham! Or is it onec a clown always a clown?

Jane on Guam

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JOYATLAST 11/17/2010 3:23PM

    So, then it's true. You actually CAN have incredible fun while exercising moderation. I really should look into that. *wink*

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NOLAZYBUTT110 11/17/2010 2:21PM

    I will bet the Clown in you wnated to do mroe than sing! lol Its good to have fun and stay safe. Nice when we can hold back....food and all the deadly sins! Great going! emoticon emoticon

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PANSYLADY2 11/15/2010 11:10AM

    Sounds like a good time. Kudos for exercising moderation with your eating. It's a hard thing to do when surrounded by so many goodies!

Noticed you changed the colors on your Spark page background. Nice.

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BONNIE627 11/15/2010 7:07AM

    sounds like a wonderful time.. glad you were able to go and enjoy ...shame you had to work the next day.. emoticon

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FREDDY1232 11/15/2010 12:47AM

    I am so glad you had a good time. Sounds like a night to remember! emoticon

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CJSARGENT1 11/15/2010 12:22AM

    Sounds like lots of fun

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IUHRYTR 11/15/2010 12:17AM

    Such a nice time. If I sang, you'd have a few more drinks to erase the sound from your mind emoticon. Ah, well, we all can't be emoticon with the karaoke machine. Sigh. -- Lou

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