Culture of Brazil
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The culture of Brazil presents a very diverse nature showing that an ethnic and cultural mixing occurred in the colonial period involving mostly Native Americans, Portuguese and Africans. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries Italian, German, Spanish, Ukrainians, Polish, Arab and Japanese immigrants settled in Brazil and played an important role in its culture, creating a multicultural and multiethnic society.
As consequence of three centuries of colonization by the Portuguese empire, the core of Brazilian culture is derived from the culture of Portugal. The numerous Portuguese inheritances include the language, the predominant religion and the colonial architectural styles. These aspects, however, were influenced by African and Native American traditions, as well as those from other Western European countries. Some aspects of Brazilian culture are contributions of Italian, German and other European immigrants. Amerindian peoples and Africans played a large role in the formation of Brazilian language, cuisine, music, dance and religion.
This diverse cultural background has helped boast many celebrations and festivals that have become known around the world, such as the Brazilian Carnival and the Bumba Meu Boi. The colorful culture creates an environment that makes Brazil a popular destination for many tourists each year.
The official language of Brazil is Portuguese. It is spoken by about 99% of the population, making it one of the strongest elements of national identity. There are only some Amerindian groups and small pockets of immigrants who do not speak Portuguese.
Minority languages are spoken throughout the nation. One hundred and eighty Amerindian languages are spoken in remote areas and a number of other languages are spoken by immigrants and their descendants. There are significant communities of German (mostly the Hunsrückisch, a High German language dialect) and Italian (mostly the Talian dialect, of Venetian origin) speakers in the south of the country, both of which are influenced by the Portuguese language. Not to mention the Slavic communities, Ukrainians and Poles which are also part of these minorities languages.
About 2/3 of the population are Roman Catholics. Catholicism was introduced and spread largely by the Portuguese Jesuits, who arrived in 1549 during the colonization with the mission of converting the Indigenous people. The Society of Jesus played a large role in the formation of Brazilian religious identity until their expulsion of the country by the Marquis of Pombal in the 18th century.
In recent decades Brazilian society has witnessed a rise in Protestantism. Between 1940 and 2010, the percentage of Roman Catholics fell from 95% to 64.6%, while the various Protestant denominations rose from 2.6% to 22.2%.
Race and ancestry
Brazil was a colony of Portugal for over three centuries. About a million Portuguese settlers arrived during this period  and brought their culture to the colony. The native inhabitants of Brazil had much contact with the colonists. Many were exterminated, others mixed with the Portuguese. For that reason, Brazil also holds Amerindian influences in its culture, mainly in its food and language. Brazilian Portuguese has hundreds of words of Native American origin, mainly from the Old Tupi language.
Black Africans, who were brought as slaves to Brazil, also participated actively in the formation of Brazilian culture. Although the Portuguese colonists forced their slaves to convert to Catholicism and speak Portuguese their cultural influences were absorbed by the inhabitants of Brazil of all races and origins. Some regions of Brazil, especially Bahia, have particularly notable African inheritances in music, cuisine, dance and language.
Immigrants from Italy, Germany, Spain, Japan, Ukraine, Russia, Poland. Austria-Hungary and the Middle East played an important role in the areas they settled (mostly Southern and Southeastern Brazil). They organized communities that became important cities such as Joinville, Caxias do Sul, Blumenau, Curitiba and brought important contributions to the culture of Brazil.
The Brazilian Carnaval is an annual festival held forty-six days before Easter. Carnaval celebrations are believed to have roots in the pagan festival of Saturnalia, which, adapted to Christianity, became a farewell to bad things in a season of religious discipline to practice repentance and prepare for Christ's death and resurrection.
Carnaval is the most famous holiday in Brazil and has become an event of huge proportions. The country stops completely for almost a week and festivities are intense, day and night, mainly in coastal cities.
Brazilian cuisine varies greatly by region. This diversity reflects the country's mix of natives and immigrants. This has created a national cooking style, marked by the preservation of regional differences. Since the colonial period, the feijoada has been the country's national dish.Luís da Câmara Cascudo wrote that, having been revised and adapted in each region of the country, it is no longer just a dish, but has become a complete food.Rice and beans, also present in the feijoada, and considered basic at Brazilian tables, is highly regarded as healthy because it contains almost all amino acids, fiber, and starches needed for our body.
Brazil has a variety of candies that are traditionally eaten for birthday parties, like brigadeiros ("brigadiers") and beijinhos ("kissies"). Other foods typically consumed in Brazilian parties are coxinhas, churrasco, sfiha, empanadas, and pine nuts (in Festa Junina). Specially in the state of Minas Gerais, are produced and consumed the famous cheese bun. The typical northern food is pato no tucupi, tacacá, caruru, vatapá, and maniçoba; the Northeast is known for moqueca (having seafood and palm oil), acarajé (the salted muffin made with white beans, onion and fried in oil palm (dendê), which is filled with dried shrimp and red pepper), manioc, diz, hominy, dumpling, and Quibebe. In the Southeast, it is common to eat Minas cheese, pizza, tutu, sushi, stew, polenta, and masses of macaroni, lasagna, and gnocchi. In the South, these foods are also popular, but the churrasco is the typical meal of Rio Grande do Sul. Cachaça is Brazil's native liquor, distilled from sugar cane, and it is the main ingredient in the national drink, the caipirinha. Brazil is the world leader in production of green coffee (café); because the Brazilian fertile soil, the country could produce and expand its market maker and often establish its economy with coffee, since the Brazilian slavery, which created a whole culture around this national drink, which became known as the "fever of coffee" – and satirized in the novelty song "The Coffee Song", sang by Frank Sinatra and with lyrics by Bob Hilliard, interpreted as an analysis of the coffee industry, and of the Brazilian economy and culture.
Painting and sculpture
The oldest known examples of Brazilian art are cave paintings in Serra da Capivara National Park in the state of Piauí, dating back to c. 13,000 BC. In Minas Gerais and Goiás have been found more recent examples showing geometric patterns and animal forms. One of the most sophisticated kinds of Pre-Columbian artifact found in Brazil is the sophisticated Marajoara pottery (c. 800–1400 AD), from cultures flourishing on Marajó Island and around the region of Santarém, and statuettes and cult objects, such as the small carved-stone amulets called muiraquitãs, also belong to these cultures. Many of the Jesuits worked in Brazil under the influence of the Baroque, the dominant style in Brazil until the early 19th century. The Baroque in Brazil flourished in Bahia and Pernambuco and Minas Gerais, generating valuable artists like Manuel da Costa Ataíde and especially the sculptor-architect Aleijadinho.
In 1816, the French Artistic Mission in Brazil created the Imperial Academy of Fine Arts and imposed a new concept of artistic education and was the basis for a revolution in Brazilian painting, sculpture, architecture, graphic arts, and crafts. A few decades later, under the personal patronage of Emperor Dom Pedro II, who was engaged in an ambitious national project of modernization, the Academy reached its golden age, fostering the emergence of the first generation of Romantic painters, whence Victor Meirelles and Pedro Américo, that, among others, produced lasting visual symbols of national identity. It must be said that in Brazil Romanticism in painting took a peculiar shape, not showing the overwhelming dramaticism, fantasy, violence, or interest in death and the bizarre commonly seen in the European version, and because of its academic and palatial nature all excesses were eschewed.
The beginning of the 20th century saw a struggle between old schools and modernist trends. Important modern artists Anita Malfatti and Tarsila do Amaral were both early pioneers in Brazilian art. Both participated of The Week of Modern Art festival, held in São Paulo in 1922, that renewed the artistic and cultural environment of the city and also presented artists such as Emiliano Di Cavalcanti, Vicente do Rego Monteiro, and Victor Brecheret. Based on Brazilian folklore, many artists have committed themselves to mix it with the proposals of the European Expressionism, Cubism, and Surrealism. From Surrealism, arises Ismael Nery, concerned with metaphysical subjects where their pictures appear on imaginary scenarios and averse to any recognizable reference. In the next generation, the modernist ideas of the Week of Modern Art have affected a moderate modernism that could enjoy the freedom of the strict academic agenda, with more features conventional method, best exemplified by the artist Candido Portinari, which was the official artist of the government in mid-century. In recent years, names such as Oscar Araripe, Beatriz Milhazes and Romero Britto have been well acclaimed.
Brazilian architecture in the colonial period was heavily influenced by the Portuguese Manueline style, albeit adapted for the tropical climate. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the city of Ouro Preto in the state of Minas Gerais contains numerous well-preserved examples of this style by artists such as Aleijadinho.
In later centuries, Brazilian architects were increasingly influenced by schools from other countries such as France and the United States, eventually developing a style of their own that has become known around the world. Artists such as Oscar Niemeyer have received much acclaim, with the Brazilian capital Brasília being the most notable example of modern Brazilian architecture. Niemeyer received the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 1988, and in 2006 the prize was awarded to Brazilian architect Paulo Mendes da Rocha.
In recent decades, Brazilian landscape architecture has also attracted some attention, particularly in the person of Roberto Burle Marx. Some of this notable works are the Copacabana promenade in Rio de Janeiro and the Ibirapuera Park in São Paulo.
Literature in Brazil dates back to the 16th century, to the writings of the first Portuguese explorers in Brazil, such as Pêro Vaz de Caminha, filled with descriptions of fauna, flora and natives that amazed Europeans that arrived in Brazil. When Brazil became a colony of Portugal, there was the "Jesuit Literature", whose main name was father António Vieira, a Portuguese Jesuit who became one of the most celebrated Baroque writers of the Portuguese language. A few more explicitly literary examples survive from this period, José Basílio da Gama's epic poem celebrating the conquest of the Missions by the Portuguese, and the work of Gregório de Matos Guerra, who produced a sizable amount of satirical, religious, and secular poetry. Neoclassicism was widespread in Brazil during the mid-18th century, following the Italian style.
Brazil produced significant works in Romanticism – novelists like Joaquim Manuel de Macedo and José de Alencar wrote novels about love and pain. Alencar, in his long career, also treated Indigenous people as heroes in the Indigenist novels O Guarany, Iracema, Ubirajara. The French Mal du siècle was also introduced in Brazil by the likes of Alvares de Azevedo, whose Lira dos Vinte Anos and Noite na Taverna are national symbols of the Ultra-romanticism. Gonçalves Dias, considered one of the national poets, sang the Brazilian people and the Brazilian land on the famous Song of the Exile (1843), known to every Brazilian schoolchild. Also dates from this period, although his work has hatched in Realism, Machado de Assis, whose works include Helena, Memórias Póstumas de Brás Cubas, O alienista, Dom Casmurro, and who is widely regarded as the most important writer of Brazilian literature. Assis is also highly respected around the world.
Monteiro Lobato, of the Pré-Modernism (an essentially Brazilian literary movement), wrote mainly for children, often bringing Greek mythology and didacticism with Brazilian folklore, as we see in his short stories about Saci Pererê. Some authors of this time, like Lima Barreto and Simões Lopes Neto and Olavo Bilac, already show a distinctly modern character; Augusto dos Anjos, whose works combine Symbolistic, Parnasian and even pre-modernist elements has a "paralytic language".Mário de Andrade and Oswald de Andrade, from Modernism, combined nationalist tendencies with an interest in European modernism and created the Modern Art Week of 1922. João Cabral de Melo Neto and Carlos Drummond de Andrade are placed among the greatest Brazilian poets; the first, post-modernist, concerned with the aesthetics and created a concise and elliptical and lean poetic, against sentimentality; Drummond, in turn, was a supporter of "anti-poetic" where the language was born with the poem. In Post-Modernism, João Guimarães Rosa wrote the novel Grande Sertão: Veredas, about Sertão, with a highly original style and almost a grammar of his own, while Clarice Lispector wrote with an introspective and psychological probing of her characters. Nowadays, Nelson Rodrigues, Rubem Fonseca and Sérgio Sant'Anna, next to Nélida Piñon and Lygia Fagundes Telles, both members of Academia Brasileira de Letras, are important authors who write about contemporary issues sometimes with erotic or political tones. Ferreira Gullar and Manoel de Barros are two highly admired poets and the former has also been nominated for the Nobel Prize.
Cinema and theatre
The Cinema has a long tradition in Brazil, reaching back to the birth of the medium in the late 19th century, and gained a new level of international acclaim in recent years.Bus 174 (2002), by José Padilha, about a bus hijacking, is the highest rated foreign film at Rotten Tomatoes.O Pagador de Promessas (1962), directed by Anselmo Duarte, won the Palme d'Or at the 1962 Cannes Film Festival, the only Brazilian film to date to win the award.Fernando Meirelles' City of God (2002), is the highest rated Brazilian film on the IMDb Top 250 list and was selected by Time magazine as one of the 100 best films of all-time in 2005. The highest-grossing film in Brazilian cinema, taking 12 million viewers to cinemas, is Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands (1976), directed by Bruno Barreto and basead on the novel of the same name by Jorge Amado. Acclaimed Brazilian filmmakers include Glauber Rocha, Fernando Meirelles, José Padilha, Anselmo Duarte, Walter Salles, Eduardo Coutinho and Alberto Cavalcanti.
Theatre was introduced by the Jesuits during the colonization, particularly by Father José de Anchieta, but did not attract much interest until the transfer of the Portuguese Court to Brazil in 1808. Over the course of the 18th century, theatre evolved alongside the blossoming literature traditions with names such as Martins Pena and Gonçalves Dias. Pena introduced the comedy of manners, which would become a distinct mark of Brazilian theatre over the next decades.
Theatre was not included in the 1922 Modern Art Week of São Paulo, which marked the beginning of Brazilian Modernism. Instead, in the following decade, Oswald de Andrade wrote O Rei da Vela, which would become the manifesto of the Tropicalismo movement in the 1960s, a time where many playwrights used theatre as a means of opposing the Brazilian military government such as Gianfrancesco Guarnieri, Augusto Boal, Dias Gomes, Oduvaldo Vianna Filho and Plínio Marcos. With the return of democracy and the end of censorship in the 1980s, theatre would again grow in themes and styles. Contemporary names include Gerald Thomas, Ulysses Cruz, Aderbal Freire-Filho, Eduardo Tolentinho de Araújo, Cacá Rosset, Gabriel Villela, Márcio Vianna, Moacyr Góes and Antônio Araújo.
Music is one of the most instantly recognizable elements of Brazilian culture. Many different genres and styles have emerged in Brazil, such as samba, choro, bossa nova, MPB, frevo, forró, maracatu, sertanejo, brega and axé.
Samba is among the most popular music genres in Brazil and is widely regarded as the country's national musical style. It developed from the mixture of Brazilian and African rhythms brought by slaves in the colonial period and originated in the state of Bahia. In the early 20th century, modern samba emerged and was popularized in Rio de Janeiro behind composers such as Noel Rosa, Cartola and Nelson Cavaquinho among others. The movement later spread and gained notoriety in other regions, particularly in Bahia and São Paulo. Contemporary artists include Martinho da Vila, Zeca Pagodinho and Paulinho da Viola.
Samba makes use of a distinct set of instruments, among the most notable are the cuíca, a friction drum that creates a high-pitched squeaky sound, the cavaquinho, a small instrument of the guitar family, and the pandeiro, a hand frame drum. Other instruments are the surdos, agogôs, chocalhos and tamborins.
Choro originated in the 19th century through interpretations of European genres such as polka and schottische by Brazilian artists who had already been influenced by African rhythms such as the batuque. It is a largely instrumental genre that shares a number of characteristics with samba. Choro gained popularity around the start of the 20th century (1880-1920) and was the genre of many of the first Brazilian records in the first decades of the 20th century. Notable Choro musicians of that era include Chiquinha Gonzaga, Pixinguinha and Joaquim Callado. The popularity of choro steadily waned after the popularization of samba but saw a revival in recent decades and remains appreciated by a large number of Brazilians. There are a number of acclaimed Choro artists nowadays such as Altamiro Carrilho, Yamandu Costa and Paulo Bellinati.
Bossa nova and MPB
Bossa nova is a style of Brazilian music that originated in the late 1950s. It has its roots on samba but features less percussion, employing instead a distinctive and percussive guitar pattern. Bossa nova gained mainstream popularity in Brazil in 1958 with the song Chega de Saudade, written by Antônio Carlos Jobim and Vinícius de Moraes. Together with João Gilberto, Jobim and Moraes would become the driving force of the genre, which gained worldwide popularity with the song Garota de Ipanema as interpreted by Gilberto, his wife Astrud and Stan Getz on the album Getz/Gilberto. The bossa nova genre remains popular in Brazil, particularly among the upper classes and in the Southeast.
MPB (acronym for Música Popular Brasileira, or Brazilian Popular Music) was a trend in Brazilian music that emerged after the bossa nova boom. It presents many variations and includes elements of styles that range from Samba to Rock music. In the 1960s some MPB artists founded the short-lived but highly influential tropicália movement, which attracted international attention. Among those were Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, Tom Zé, Nara Leão and Os Mutantes.
Sertanejo is the most popular genre in Brazilian mainstream media since the 1990s. It evolved from música caipira over the course of the 20th century, a style of music that originated in Brazilian countryside and that made use of the viola caipira, although it presents nowadays a heavy influence from American country music. Beginning in the 1980s, Brazil saw an intense massification of the sertanejo genre in mainstream media and an increased interest by the phonographic industry. As a result, sertanejo is today the most popular music genre in Brazil in terms of radio play. Common instruments in contemporary sertanejo are the acoustic guitar, which often replaces the viola, the accordion and the harmonica, as well as electric guitar, bass and drums. Notable acts include Chitãozinho & Xororó, Zezé Di Camargo & Luciano, Leonardo and Daniel.
Forró and frevo
Forró and Frevo are two music and dance forms originated in the Brazilian Northeast. Forró, like Choro, originated from European folk genres such as the schottische in between the 19th and early 20th centuries. It remains a very popular music style, particularly in the Northeast region, and is danced in forrobodós (parties and balls) throughout the country.
Frevo originated in Recife, Pernambuco during the Carnival, the period it is most often associated with. While the music presents elements of procession and martial marches, the frevo dance (known as "passo") has been notably influenced by capoeira. Frevo parades are a key tradition of the Pernambuco Carnival.
Many other genres have originated in Brazil, specially in recent years. Some of the most notable are:
- The manguebit movement, originated in Recife and founded by the late Chico Science and Nação Zumbi. The music fuses elements of maracatu, frevo, funk rock and hip hop.
- Axé is a very popular genre, particularly in the state of Bahia. It is a fusion of Afro-Caribbean rhythms and is strongly associated with the Salvador Carnival.
- Maracatu is another genre originated in the state of Pernambuco. It evolved from traditions passed by generations of African slaves and features large percussive groups and choirs.
- Brega is a hard to define music style from the state of Pará, usually characterized as influenced by Caribbean rhythms and containing simple rhymes, arrangements and a strong sentimental appeal. It has spawned subgenres such as tecno brega, which has attracted worldwide interest for achieving high popularity without significant support from the phonographic industry.
Others, exist there are some decades, like:
- Metal: Sepultura (since 1984), for example, is the biggest and most famous Brazilian band of Metal, and one of the most notorious in the world.
- Classic Music: Nowadys,the master and pianist Joao Carlos Martins is one of the most important in the world.
- Instrumental music: Yamandu Costa and Manasses are one of the best guitar players of the world.
- Blues & Jazz: every year, during the Carnival, happens one of the most important blues and jazz festival music of the world, called
"Festival de Blues e Jazz de Guaramiranga", located in the hill city Guaramiranga, Ceara state.
Television has played a large role in the formation of contemporary Brazilian popular culture. It was introduced in 1950 by Assis Chateaubriand and remains the country's most important element of mass media.
Telenovelas are a marking feature in Brazilian television, usually being broadcasted in prime time on most major television networks. Telenovelas are similar in concept to soap operas in English-speaking countries but differ from them in duration, telenovelas being significantly shorter (usually about 100 to 200 episodes). They are widely watched throughout the country, to the point that they have been described as a significant element in national identity and unity, and have been exported to over 120 countries.
Brazilian folklore includes many stories, legends, dances, superstitions and religious rituals. Characters include the Boitatá, the Boto Cor-de-Rosa, the Saci and the Bumba Meu Boi, which has spawned the famous June festival in Northern and Northeastern Brazil.
Football is the most popular sport in Brazil. Many Brazilian players such as Pelé, Ronaldo, Kaká, and Ronaldinho are among the most well known players in the sport. The Brazilian national football team (Seleção) is currently among the best in the world, according to the FIFA World Rankings. They have been victorious in the FIFA World Cup a record 5 times, in 1958, 1962, 1970, 1994, and 2002.Basketball, volleyball, auto racing, and martial arts also attract large audiences. Tennis, handball, swimming, and gymnastics have found a growing sporting number of enthusiasts over the last decade. Some sport variations have their origins in Brazil. Beach football,futsal (official version of indoor football), and footvolley emerged in the country as variations of football. In martial arts, Brazilians have developed capoeira,vale tudo, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. In auto racing, Brazilian drivers have won the Formula One World Championship 9 times: Emerson Fittipaldi in 1972 and 1974;Nelson Piquet in 1981, 1983, and 1987; and Ayrton Senna in 1988, 1990, and 1991.
Brazil has undertaken the organization of large-scale sporting events: the country organized and hosted the 1950 FIFA World Cup, and is chosen to host the 2014 FIFA World Cup event. The circuit located in São Paulo, called Autódromo José Carlos Pace, hosts the annual Grand Prix of Brazil. São Paulo organized the IV Pan American Games in 1963, and Rio de Janeiro hosted the XV Pan American Games in 2007. Brazil also tried for the 4th time to host the Summer Olympics with Rio de Janeiro candidature in 2016. On October 2, 2009, Rio de Janeiro was selected to host the 2016 Summer Olympics, which will be the first to be held in South America.
As a society with strong traditional values, the family in Brazil is usually represented by the couple and their children. Extended family is also an important aspect with strong ties being often maintained. Accompanying a world trend, the structure of the Brazilian family has seen major changes over the past few decades with the reduction of average size and increase in single-parent, dual-worker and remarried families. The family structure has become less patriarchal and women are more independent, although gender disparity is still evident in wage difference.
Brazil inherited a highly traditional and stratified class structure from its colonial period with deep inequality. In recent decades, the emergence of a large middle class has contributed to increase social mobility and alleviate income disparity, but the situation remains grave. Brazil ranks 54th among world countries by Gini index.
|Date||English name||Portuguese name||Remarks|
|January 1||New Year's Day||Ano Novo/ Confraternização Universal||Celebrates the beginning of the Gregorian calendar year. Festivities include counting down to midnight on the preceding night. Traditional end of the holiday season.|
|Mars/April (Variable)||Good Friday||Sexta-feira Santa||Christian holiday, celebrates the passion and death of Jesus on the cross.|
|April 21||Tiradentes' Day||Dia de Tiradentes||Anniversary of the death of Tiradentes (1792), considered a national martyr for being part of the Inconfidência Mineira, an insurgent movement that aimed to establish an independent Brazilian republic.|
|May 1||Labor Day||Dia do Trabalhador||Celebrates the achievements of workers and the labor movement.|
|June (Variable)||Corpus Christi||Corpus Christi||A national Catholic holiday which celebrates the Eucharist and the belief of the real presence of Jesus in the host.|
|September 7||Independence Day||Dia da Independência||Celebrates the Declaration of Independence from Portugal on September 7, 1822.|
|October 12||Our Lady of Aparecida||Nossa Senhora Aparecida||Commemorates the Virgin Mary as Nossa Senhora da Conceição Aparecida, Patron Saint of Brazil. Also celebrated as Children's Day (Dia das Crianças) on the same date.|
|November 2||Day of the Dead||Dia de Finados||Another Christian holiday, it commemorates the faithful departed.|
|November 15||Republic Day||Proclamação da República||Commemorates the end of the Empire of Brazil and the proclamation of the Brazilian Republic on November 15, 1889.|
|December 25||Christmas Day||Natal
6 March Grace day
|Celebrates the nativity of Jesus.|
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