Brazil Gift Giving Customs

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Brazil flag.jpg
Flag of Brazil
Official Language: Portuguese
Currency: Real (pronounced 'hay-AHL'), plural Reais ('hay-EYES'), BRL or R$
Religion: Roman Catholic

Officially the Federative Republic of Brazil, located in South America, Brazil is one of the ten largest economies in the world.

Brazilians are known for their flair and zest for life - high spirited, creative and friendly. Families are usually large and include extended family members providing the foundation of Brazil's social structure. Portuguese, spoken by almost 100 percent of the people, is a key component to Brazil's unity. Brazil does not have a distinct Indian population like many other Latin countries. Intermarriages have created a population rich in diversity - a combination of European, African and indigenous ancestry.

As a multicultural society, its early influence included strong colonial ties with the Portuguese empire. Brazilian culture also has contributions of European and Asian immigrants, Native South Americans and African slaves.

Gift Giving in Brazil
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Personal Gift Giving

  • When invited into a home, the Brazilian gift giving custom is to bring wine, scotch, or champagne
  • Flowers may be sent before or after a visit to someone’s home for dinner.
  • Always bring something for the children, if present.

Brazilians have an occidental culture, influenced by the West. Giving a gift you would give in the USA will be appreciated.

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Business Gift Giving

  • Hospitality is important, but gift giving in Brazil in the business sector is not universal among businesspeople.
  • Gifts are not expected in business relationships and may be conceived as a bribe.
  • Gifts should not be given on the first meeting.
  • If you wish to give a gift, it is the Brazilian gift giving custom to present it at a social setting rather than a business meeting.
  • Secretaries at Brazilian companies can be very helpful, and a gift of a scarf or perfume is a good way to express appreciation. However, gifts to members of the opposite sex can be misinterpreted; a man should say, "This is from my wife," when giving a gift to a woman.

Gifts to Give Gifts to Avoid
  • Something stylish
  • Small electronic items
  • Name brand pens pens and accessories
  • Good quality whiskey
  • Coffee table books
  • US sports team and university apparel
  • Something obviously expensive as this will cause embarrassment
  • Key chains, wallets, or jewelry as these may be misinterpreted as too personal
  • Knives or scissors, as these show severing of a close bond
  • 13 of anything, as this number is considered bad luck
  • Anything purple or black (including flowers) as it is a reminder of Lenten season and mourning
  • Handkerchiefs, because they are associated with tears and funerals
  • Items with a green and yellow color scheme, which represent the national colors

Business in Brazil

Brazilians work well with who they know, preferring face-to-face meetings over written communication, limiting business by phone, fax or e-mail. Importance is placed on the individual representing the company rather than the company itself - thus the expression: "For friends, everything. For enemies, the law." Developing a relationship is important, more important than a legal document. Business communication is informal, not following strict rules of protocol. Opinions are generally spoken and interrupting the speaker is considered acceptable. To embarrass a Brazilian is distasteful, causing the one criticizing to lose face as well as the one criticized. If you are doing business in Brazil, take care not to schedule appointments during holidays or festivals.[1]

Social Etiquette

Cheek-kissing is very common in Brazil, both among women and between women and men. Men shake hands. Attempting to shake hands while being offered a kiss can be considered odd, but never rude. You should not kiss on the cheek, but actually beside the cheek in the air. Placing your lips on a stranger's cheek can be perceived as strange. If married, women kiss twice, once on each cheek. Single women add a third kiss.

Brazilians are an expressive people. Physical contact is a way of communication. It is common to touch elbows, arms and backs while conversing. Brazilians stand close during conversation – it is rude to back away. The “thumb's up” gesture is used for approval, while the “OK” gesture is considered rude.

Christmas in Brazil
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If you are planning a trip to Brazil during the Christmas season, you may want to familiarize yourself with the traditions and customs surrounding the holiday. Christmas falls in the middle of the summer in Brazil. However, minus the high temperatures and the absence of snow, Christmas in Brazil is pretty much the same as Christmas in the United States.

Christmas, celebrated on the 25th December, is the number one festival in Brazil. Home to many Catholics, Brazilians emphasize the religious aspects of the holiday and attend midnight mass, referred to as “Missa do Galo.”

Papai Noel (Father Noel) is the bearer of gifts for the children, similar to Santa Claus in the US. Instead of the red fur coat, he comes dressed in a red silk suit, more suited for the hot weather. He secretly leaves gifts in the home of every good child on Christmas Day.

According to Brazilian legend, the animals talk and tell the story of Christ’s birth during Christmas. Other traditions include a Nativity scene and a huge Christmas dinner, called Ceia de Natal, unusual in the hot summertime. A sample menu may include ham and turkey, vegetables, fruit and rice. [2]

Weddings in Brazil
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Wedding celebrations in Brazil are festive and colorful, rivaling the grandest in the world. Traditions, including song, dance, and good food, play a major role. Pagoda, a form of samba dance involving music and beats, is a traditional dance. Gifts from the parents are given at the wedding.

Wedding Customs

  • The bride must be at least 10 minutes late and cannot arrive before the groom.
  • The groom cannot see the bride in her wedding gown before the ceremony.
  • The bridesmaids and groomsman are chosen and paired at the wedding.
  • To drop either ring during the ceremony is a bad omen suggesting the marriage will not last.
  • In some parts of Brazil, the groom must tame an unbridled donkey in order to prove his worth as a husband, a custom is known as Bumba- Meu- Boi.
  • The groom must carry his bride and enter his new home right-foot-first. [3]

Related Topics


  1. eDiplomat - Brazil
  2. - Brazil Christmas
  3. - Wedding Traditions