Culture and Customs of Brazil

Culture and Customs of Brazil

Culture and Customs of Brazil

Culture and Customs of Brazil


Brazil, the largest country in South America, embodies so much paradox that it defies neat description. This book will help students and general readers dispel stereotypes of Brazil and begin to understand what country's "bigness" means in terms of its land, people, history, society, and cultural expressions.


God is a Brazilian.

—Popular saying

THIS BOOK IS a greatly expanded version of a lecture I developed over the years entitled “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Br**il But Were Afraid to Ask.” The lecture went through different incarnations to accommodate different audiences. Sometimes it was addressed to internationalists who were interested in different facets of the world but who probably knew very little about Brazil. At other times, it was aimed at undergraduates who were likely studying Spanish but who had not yet learned anything about Brazil. Once, I even had the honor of the presence of a number of senior staff officers from the Brazilian military.

Brazil is so vast and complex a country that it is difficult to determine what a good starting point would be in a general introduction. But perhaps that vastness and a series of other things of magnitude might serve as a logical place to begin, since bigness, and indeed extravagance, are in some ways so intimately connected with the national image, accurate or not, Brazilians have of themselves and of their country. Brazil is the fifth largest country in the world (about 3.29 million square miles in area), the largest country in Latin America, and the most populous Roman Catholic country in the world. It contains the world's most voluminous river (the Amazon), the world's largest oxygenating forest, the world's largest wetland (the pantanal), the world's largest fluvial island, a third of the world's iron ore reserves, and the world's . . .

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