If there’s one thing all cultures have in common during the holidays, it’s the importance of spending quality time with our families. In Brazil, this is certainly at the heart of Christmas festivities. And, like the U.S., large family gatherings and delicious feasts are a given. But you may be surprised to learn that drinking hot cocoa, sitting by the fireplace and putting up decorations are not Christmastime norms in Brazil.
While we’re bundling up in sweaters, lighting up the tree and getting out the snow shovels, Brazilians can be found celebrating in the sun! Since Christmas falls during the summer in Brazil, it’s high time for barbecuing, swimming and other outdoor activities.
Whether you live by a sun-drenched beach in Brazil or a snow-covered mountain in Alaska, there are special (and delicious) Brazilian holiday traditions you can enjoy from anywhere. So, we tapped a few of our Brazilian SOL Family members to share their favorites.
Christmas Eve is a Big Deal
In Brazil, Christmas Eve is the main event of the holiday season. Since 54 percent of the population is Catholic, many Brazilians attend midnight mass, exchange gifts and celebrate with large family gatherings the night before Christmas.
“Brazilians gather on the night of the 24th and it’s a big party! We do a big dinner and hang out—drinking, talking partying until midnight. That's when we all wish each other Merry Christmas and open presents!”
Creative Content Manager
“The Christmas Eve meal and gift exchange happens after the Midnight Mass, which is a tradition of the Catholic Church. In Portuguese, we call it Missa do Galo (Rooster Mass).”
“Since my family is so big, we always do a fun Secret Santa game. We either draw names in advance or play the stealing game. Secret Santa is my favorite part because it’s about having fun and not spending a lot of money.”
Christmas Day is Spent Outdoors
Because Christmas and summer go hand in hand in Brazil, spending time outside is a natural way to continue the holiday festivities. Just take it from our Brazilian team members, who love a big family barbecue.
“Our family is so big, and about 90% of us are basically neighbors. We have family celebrations such as weddings and birthdays every month. On all of these occasions, our way of celebrating is pretty much the same—a big and delicious meal, followed by a next-day barbecue that can last forever.”
Manager, Brand Activation & Engagement
“My family traditionally has a barbecue brunch by the pool on the 25th and we hang out in the sun all day—since is peak summer!"
Food for Days
Christmas traditions in Brazil largely center around the amazing family feasts, much like the U.S. And once you read more about our team’s Brazilian food traditions, you might just want to try one with your own family this holiday season!
“My family serves turkey with the traditional Brazilian sides (beans, rice, farofa, couve and some sort of fruit—banana, pineapple or orange), which I love. My favorite dessert for Christmas is rabanada which is basically our version of French Toast with more sugar and cinnamon. This is served as a dessert, not a brunch meal. Panettone is also a very big tradition in Brazil—you just have to try it.”
“We must have a big bird for dinner, but generally Brazilians do Chester (a kind of chicken) instead of turkey.”
“After church, my family goes to my grandma's house where the table is full of delicacies—fruits, meats and traditional sweets such as rabanada, panettone and chocolate/strawberry pie for the family supper.”
“Panettone is by far my favorite Christmas food. Either my grandma bakes it, or we buy it from a local bakery that makes an incredible one. It's a big thing in Brazil. Traditionally they are made with dried fruit, but a lot of people don't like that in Brazil, so they make it with chocolate chips. I prefer the dried fruit one, but probably because my grandma's is amazing!”
If the sound of these dishes is making your mouth water, you’re in for a real treat—we’ve included a delicious recipe for rabanada below. We hope these family traditions from our SOL team inspire you to celebrate in new ways and get into the holiday spirit!
Rabanada (Brazilian French Toast) Recipe, Food.com
Total Time: 7 hours, 15 mins
Serves: 4 - 6 people
- 1 medium sweet baguette or sourdough baguette
- 1 medium sweet baguette or sourdough baguette
- 3 large eggs
- 3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
- 6 tablespoons whole milk
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 3-4 cups vegetable oil (for frying, estimated)
- Cut bread into 1-inch thick slices on the bias. You should get about 16 pieces. If you have more, adjust other ingredients to compensate.
- Whisk together the eggs, condensed milk, whole milk, vanilla extract, and salt until well mixed.
- Coat bread slices on both sides in the egg mixture, and place coated bread in a shallow pan or pie plate, add any remaining egg mixture to it. Cover with press and seal wrap or foil and place in the refrigerator to soften overnight.
- Mix together sugar, cocoa and cinnamon in a small shallow bowl big enough to hold one slice bread.
- Heat oil in a deep skillet to about 2-inches until it reaches 330F (use a candy thermometer to check).
- Lift the bread from the egg mixture until it stops dripping, and pan fry the pieces in the skillet on both sides until golden and crispy. Keep the oil hot while frying (check temp), raising the heat if needed.
- As the pieces are removed from the skillet, drain on paper towels then dredge in the spicy sugar mixture.