Brazilian ethnic groups are an interesting mix made up mostly of Brazilian Indians, mixed Europeans, and Afro-Brazilians that took place during the country’s colonial period.
The result of the 300 years of colonization of Brazil by the Portuguese is a central culture heavily taken from that of Portugal. Among those that were derived from the colonizers were the predominantly Catholic religion, architectural style, and language.
Brazilian Culture: People
Brazil is one of the most ethnically diverse countries on the planet. Its population is composed of 3 major ethnic groups:
Mixed Europeans and other races. This large ethnic group is made up mostly of Portuguese ancestry. Beginning in the late 19th century, Brazil was a preferred destination for Spanish, German, and Italian immigrants. At the same time, peoples from the Middle East, Ukraine, Poland, and Russia, as well as American Indians and Asians, arrived to settle in the country.
Afro-Brazilians. This brazilian ethnic groups is composed of descendants of millions of slaves brought to Brazil from Africa for over a three-century period. By the end of the 20th century, they comprised at least 45% of the population of the country.
Brazilian Indians. A growing population (approximately between 2.5 and 5 million) of this multilingual brazilian ethnic groups were already inhabiting Brazil when the Portuguese arrived. The population quickly dwindled due to war, dislocation, and diseases brought in by the Europeans against which the natives had no natural immunity. Better health care, higher fertility rate, fewer diseases, and decreased infant mortality rate prevented their extinction. They presently make up less than 1% of Brazil’s population.
Brazilian Culture: Family Unit
The Brazilian household is normally composed of parents and children and don’t have the tendency to get detached the way Americans do. Brazilian culture is heavily-steeped in very close family ties regardless of their social status. It is very hard for them to live far from their kinfolks.
Grown members of the family usually remain in the parental home until they get married. Even after marriage, they prefer to live near their parents. In the city, it’s not unusual to see families living in separate units in the same apartment building. What’s more, they make it a point to interact daily or at least once weekly with relatives and in-laws.
Brazilian Culture: Marriage
Civil and religious marriage are practiced in Brazil although people who go through church-officiated ceremonies are decreasing in number especially in urban areas. Living together is much preferred over marriage by the poor than people in the higher levels of society. Because the Catholic Church is strongly against it, divorce became a part of Brazilian culture only in the late 1970’s.
Brazilian Culture: Etiquette
Brazilians aren’t too particular about personal space unlike North Americans and don’t mind standing close to each other in packed public areas. They use a lot of physical gestures and use touch to convey information and emotions. While it may appear to other people as sexual, Brazilians do a lot of touching as a gesture of friendliness and concern.
Women are more inclined to touch than men and are fond of kissing each other on both cheeks. Men greet one another with a sincere pat on the back and occasional hugs. Such casualness are even carried on in conversations.
In Brazilian culture, the way body language and the manner of addressing people is expressed depends on the person’s social status. House servants greet their employer with heads bowed, eyes lowered and a weak handshake. Employers are addressed not with the casual “you” (voceê) but with the more respectful “you” ( a senhor or a senhora ). By contrast, employers address their domestic help as você.
Brazilians typically address college graduates and professionals with their first name preceded by their title such as Doutora Maxine Luíza or Professor Fernando.
Northeast Brazilian Culture
The region’s economy is highly dependent on agriculture and tourism especially in coastal and historical cities. It owes a large part of its tourist revenues to its world-renowned beaches which where thousands of visitors flock every year. They are not just local visitors but guests from countries as far as the United Kingdom, Portugal, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Australia, and the United States.
Northeast Brazilian culture possesses a background that it can be proud of. It takes great pride in:
- The unique architectural style and construction of its historical centers in Olinda, Recife, and Salvador, Brazil’s first capital.
- Its forró and axé music
- Its frevo and maracatu dance form
- Its unique culinary specialties that include carne de sol, sururu de capote, canjuca, acaraje, bolo de fuba cozido, and farofa.
The Carnival Culture. Northeastern Brazil’s many and different cultural background gave birth to various festivals and celebrations that have become very popular tourist attractions. The most notable of these festivals include the Festas Juninas and the Bumba-Meu-Boi festival.
A tour of Brazil’s Northeastern regions won’t be complete without experiencing its off-season carnival or micareta. One such event is the Carnatal in Rio Grande do Norte’s city of Natal and the Fortal in Fortaleza. These colorful events that are part of Brazilian culture help draw a huge number of visitors to Brazil each year.