Practical Parenting Ideas: Family Culture Night: Brazil

Monday, September 7, 2015

Family Culture Night: Brazil

Guest Author: Alyssa Craig

Instead of taking your family to Brazil, bring Brazil into your home. By creating a fun family culture night, you can teach your children (and any other family members you care to invite) to learn more about the largest country in South America. Here are some fun facts, rules of etiquette, and fun ways you can fill your home with Brazilian culture for the night. 

Facts and Stats

As mentioned above, Brazil is the largest country in South America, with its population reaching 200 million people as of 2013. 

Nearly everyone in the country speaks Portuguese, a language brought over from Portugal, though the Brazilian dialect now differs from its original form. 

The national colors are green and yellow (use these as inspiration for decorations for the night!).

The national currency is called Real (pronounced hey-al, symbol R$). Currently, the R$ is about R$3.10 to US $1.00.


Men shake hands and women kiss on the cheeks - left first, then right. Hugging and backslapping are acceptable. If a woman would like to shake hands, it is up to her to extend her hand first. 

Flowers are encouraged as a gift for the hostess - in many colors! Orchids are considered a really nice gift, though black and purple gifts and flowers should be avoided, as these colors are considered signs of mourning.

Dress up! Even casual dress is more formal. Err on the side of overdressing rather than underdressing. 


Part of experiencing Brazilian culture must include sampling their typical cuisine. Plan a meal when you can showcase some common Brazilian foods.

Brazilian food incorporates quite a bit of beans, rice, and manioc (root) eaten as farinha.

The midday meal is the biggest affair and is a multi-course occasion. The meal usually includes a pasta dish, or a meat or fish dish along with rice, beans, and manioc. This is then followed by a sweet dessert or fruit. Finally, enjoy tiny cups of cafezinho (a strong Brazilian coffee).

Other common Brazilian foods include Feijoada (a stew of black beans and different meats, traditionally served with rice and oranges) and Farofa (a condiment of toasted flour made from cassava (a starchy root); it is sprinkled on feijoada or any meat, fruit, or vegetable).

Fun and Games

Learn some Portuguese phrases and use them throughout the evening. Some common, simple ones include:

Bom dia! - Hello/good morning!
Boa Tarde! - Good afternoon!
Boa Noite! - Good evening!
Por favor - Please
Obrigado - Thank you
Como vai - How are you? (informal)
Bem - Well
Me chamo… - My name is…
Eu te amo - I love you

With the Brazilian Real being worth more than the U.S. dollar, as discussed here, this is a great time to teach your children about how money is not equal across the board in different countries. Acquire some Real (or use fake money in its place) and show them how they can exchange their American money for more Brazilian money. 

Play a game of Queimada, a game similar to dodgeball, played on two teams. The outer ends of the court are the “cemeteries” and the ball starts in one cemetery, with the rest of the team facing toward their cemetery. The person in the cemetery throws the ball to their teammates across the court and they attempt to hit the other team, sending them to their own cemetery. The game ends when all players from one side have “died”.

Futbol (soccer) is a big deal in Brazil. Each time the World Cup comes around, practically the entire country watches the games and supports their national team. Play a pick-up game at the park or in your backyard as another great way to get in touch with the love of this game in Brazilian culture. 

Brazilians love to talk and tend to be close to their extended, as well as their immediate family members! Allow plenty of time in the evening to just gab and enjoy each other’s company. This is a great way to round out the evening and talk about your favorite parts of Brazilian culture and what you learned together throughout the evening. 

As you strive to learn more about the Brazilian culture and give your family a taste of the way others live in the world, you will gain a greater appreciation for other traditions and may even find some great food or games to include in your own family traditions.

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