Christmas in Brazil and Natal

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Christmas in Brazil

Brazil is a predominantly Catholic country, and celebrates Christmas like most Western countries.
Natal is the celebration of the birth of Jesus. Also, it is the most important shopping season of the year.

Brazil also have a Santa Claus, which in Portuguese of Brazil is called Papai Noel (in Portuguese of Portugal, Santa Claus is called Pai Natal; in Spanish, Papá Noel; and in French, Père Nöel).
The phrase Merry Christmas, in Portuguese, is "Feliz Natal".
Brazilian Papai Noel wears the same red costume, carries a bag with gifts, that he places under the Christmas trees for children who behaved well.
Since the beginning of November, shopping centers are decorated for Christmas, with lights and a big Christmas tree; all shopping centers hire a Papai Noel to walk around the corridors, or to take photos with children. Also, many houses and buildings are decorated with strings of colorful, blinking lights.
Families meet on the night of 24th, have a nice dinner (usually with turkey) and exchange gifts. Besides turkey, other typical food which appear in supermarkets during Christmas are panettones, nuts, dry fruits. On the 24th and 31st of December, most shoppings and businesses close early; on the 25th and Jan. 1st, most businesses are closed, but some (like cinemas and restaurants) may open. In the days before Christmas, shopping centers become terribly busy.

The big difference between Christmas in Brazil and the northern hemisphere is the climate. Christmas in Brazil is celebrated in the beginning of summer.
In Natal, climate is pleasant during Christmas and New Year weeks. Temperatures are high during the day (around 30 degrees Celsius, 86 degrees Fahrenheit). It is not uncommon to see showers at Christmas and New Year Eve nights, but rather than spoiling, these short lasting showers are usually welcome to freshen up the party.

Christmas in Natal

Read: Christmas in Natal 2006.

The city of Natal was founded on Christmas day (see History); the city makes special efforts to celebrate "Natal no Natal" (Christmas in Natal).

The government promotes a contest with prizes to the homes, shops, businesses, etc. with the most beautiful decorations.
The government pays for the decoration of streets, with are simple but very beautiful. Since a few years, big Christmas trees have been assembled in several spots of Natal; these trees have become larger and more lamps have been added over the years.

It is becoming a tradition in Natal the presenation of theatrical plays and musical shows during Christmas.
In the former Palace of Government, in downtown, in the days before and after Christmas (in 2006, tenth year in a row of the event, it was from Dec. 20th to Dec. 29th, at 6 pm), a stage is setup for the presentation of the play called "Um Presente de Natal" (A Christmas Gift), where the Birth of Christ is played by artists of the city.

Probably the biggest event of Christmas in Natal is the "Auto de Natal" (Play of Christmas), another theatricalization of Jesus and the Wise Kings. This play takes place at the amphitheater (called Praça Cívica) of the Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte.
Read more about the programme of Christmas in Natal 2006.

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