Interesting customs and traditions in Brazil

Hello everyone,

Living outside of our home country requires us to adapt to a new culture and different traditions. What are some of the cultural specifics in Brazil?

What are some of the traditional beliefs and cultural practices that you have encountered in Brazil that are different to your home country?

Tell us a bit more about some of the customs that you’ve found interesting, such as communication style, food, greetings, laws, or festivities.

What were your initial reactions and how did you adapt to them?

Thank you for sharing your experience.


Living outside of our home country requires us to adapt to a new culture and different traditions. What are some of the cultural specifics in Brazil?

Eating at a specific time.  Taking a nap in the afternoon.

What are some of the traditional beliefs and cultural practices that you have encountered in Brazil that are different to your home country?

Religious beliefs are different. many religious holidays.

Tell us a bit more about some of the customs that you’ve found interesting, such as communication style, food, greetings, laws, or festivities.

I find it interesting that almost everything has corn in it. The traditional breakfast is much different. I went to Carnaval one time where I live. I liked the costumes and the floats. The Samba not so much. there were too many dancers and they were constantly bumping into each other.

What were your initial reactions and how did you adapt to them?

I still follow my choices of food that I was used to in the USA.


Living outside of our home country requires us to adapt to a new culture and different traditions. What are some of the cultural specifics in Brazil?

Brazilians don´t normally call you if they´re late or not coming to an agreed meeting or party. They love parties and are rowdy creating  lots of noises even in restaurants where other people are dining. Noises from neighbors, especially loud music even after 10pm which by Brazilian law (lei de sossego) should be of complete silence.

What are some of the traditional beliefs and cultural practices that you have encountered in Brazil that are different to your home country?

Many establishments especially the smaller ones don´t post operating hours by the
front door. In many occasions I´ve lost time finding out that they closed earlier and at times closed without prior warning because they felt they did not want to come to work that day.

Tell us a bit more about some of the customs that you’ve found interesting, such as communication style, food, greetings, laws, or festivities.

Communication style: They love to repeat back your question without giving you the answer. They utter words and answers like "mais ou menos" or words that are ambiguous like "less pregnant" connotations.

Food: They love big chunks of meat roasted in spits and shared with others.

Greetings: They hug and kiss a lot.

Laws: What laws? Everything goes in Brazil!

Festivities: They celebrate harvests like strawberries, onions, beer and even celebrate
           mullet season catches.
What were your initial reactions and how did you adapt to them?

I only choose to engage the good ones, shy away from the rest and stick to my own
personal affairs and activities!


I should say first that my opinions are primarily based on São Paulo (where I live), as well as Minas Gerais and Paraná where I travel to frequently.

Living outside of our home country requires us to adapt to a new culture and different traditions. What are some of the cultural specifics in Brazil? What are some of the traditional beliefs and cultural practices that you have encountered in Brazil that are different to your home country?

Australia and Brazil actually share a few things in common with each other, like climate, friendly people (and some seriously stupid people too), as well as a love for barbecues, beaches and coffee, but with that said there's a ton of differences too. Most differences are pretty small or specific, but that's what keeps it interesting I guess. As I said, there's way too many to mention but I'll list a few things I've noticed:

One of the main ones is the concept of time; Brazilians aren't often very punctual, and often seem to have a unrealistic idea of how many things can be done in a given period of time. They are terrible at maintaining regular commitments.

The general sense of humour that people have here is pretty different to my own country's as well, jokes or comments which would be considered humorous in Australia are often not understood at all or considered to be a bit on the brutal side. It reminds me a little more of the humour found in the United States where people often take what you say absolutely literally, no matter how ridiculous it may be. Many Brazlians also seem to have taboos related to talking about sadder aspects of life, such as death.

Despite the insane price of technology here, Brazilians are technology mad and will jump straight on the bandwagon of any new thing that comes out. This is hardly unique to Brazil, but I've definitely felt it to be way stronger here than back home. The most important social tool these days seems to be whatsapp, to the extent that it is even used for business and I'm pretty sure you can't qualify for citizenship here unless you're a part of 10 different whatsapp groups and have 324 unread messages on your phone.

Brazilians also seem to be absolutely obsessed with what you think of their country, which I often find a bit silly. It's surely a direct result of the 'complexo de vira-lata' that is well known to exist here, where many Brazilians (unnecessarily) seem to see themselves as inferior to people from many other places. Criticism of Brazil from foreigners will often be taken quite personally, even when it is totally warranted and/or not intended to be taken so. Meanwhile in Australia, if criticism is based on some level of objective truth, I think we have a tendency to agree (and even join in) and it's not usually taken personally if directed only at the country.

Maybe the biggest (and worst) difference though is the extent to which social inequality dominates virtually every facet of life here. That's not to say that Australia doesn't have any problems like this, but here in Brazil who your friends are, where you live, what problems you face, what life expectations you have, how you speak to people, how you speak in general, how you treat others, what you eat, what you believe, what time you wake up in the morning, absolutely everything is shaped by class distinctions here. The idea of wealthier people doing household chores or getting a part-time job at McDonalds while they study is completely alien, and would even be considered shocking by some. It's clear from talking to some people here that even though they live in the same city, they live in completely different worlds, and are completely ignorant of the other. The vast majority of problems that Brazil faces can be traced back to this.

Tell us a bit more about some of the customs that you’ve found interesting, such as communication style, food, greetings, laws, or festivities.

Communication: Well, as most people know here Brazilians are very loud and generally not self-conscious at all about being heard in public, which is actually something I really like. I must admit I still feel weird about talking loudly on public transport though, and I probably always will. Brazilians are generally also pretty indirect in their speech, most subjects in a conversation have to have some type of preamble or introduction before they start getting to the point. For me that's fine - if not different - but the one thing I don't like is how many people go about resolving problems, too often they're too preoccupied with not hurting any feelings or talking "around" the problem rather than just accepting what is necessary to solve it.

Food: Bloody fantastic. For me the food here has to be one of the highlights, there's little I've tried which I didn't enjoy. I already ate a lot of rice before coming here, so it was just a case of adding the beans to my diet, hehe. Brazilians love their kilo restaurants as well, which I think are a very good system. The only thing is that Brazilians have a massive sweet tooth, and tend to add sugar to everything - the idea that sugar is unhealthy for you either hasn't caught on at all here, or everyone is just pretending otherwise.

Greetings: If you're not into much touching or physical contact, Brazil ain't for you. Kissing strangers (of the opposite sex) is completely normal - it can be 1-3 kisses depending on the state you are in - and hugging, patting and the like occurs constantly. This is another thing I quite like about the culture, as although Australians are not quite as "warm" as Brazilians, we still do a lot of this stuff too.

Laws: well, theoretically Brazil actually has some excellent laws (and some terrible ones too), but the main problem is that many of them are terribly enforced. Many smaller crimes are not taken seriously, and it definitely undermines confidence in the Police and the justice system here. The police basically exist here to maintain state control, rather than to genuinely protect the community, which is sad.

Festivities: Brazil has many religious holidays, which are either taken very seriously or not seriously at all depending on which part of the country you are in. As an example, Carnaval is obviously huge in Rio and the Northeast, yet doesn't seem to be a big deal in some other areas. Many festivities have some type of traditional food linked to them as well, although as always here, that can vary depending on which area of the country you are talking about.

I love where I lived in Brazil (Porto Seguro, Arraial d'Ajuda Bahia) it is quite beautiful, very peaceful, cheaper than dirt to live and actually quite safe. But as a man of 51 with medicle issues including heart issues, one may think twice or three times before retiring to Brazil if you have health issues that are chronic, severe and potentially life threatening unless emergency medical attention is needed.
I also have kidney issues, when they do flare up can cause my other organs to shut down including my heart.
I went a year without issues, but recently had a shut down of kidneys. Went to the E.R, which is supposed to be the best in this area, serving over 160 cities. Even after telling E.R. personnel my symptoms which included left chest pain, I had to sit and wait for over a hour to be seen by E.R. triage nurse, who did nothing but orally take symptoms again, not even listen to heart or take pulse. Then waited another hour to be called into back rooms where there were 50-75 other patients. I sat for 20 minutes and they drew blood in a room with about 12-15 people, fresh wet blood all over floor. Told me to wait some more. After half hour they gave me an I.V that blew out after 10 minutes and then tries another that blew after 10-15 minutes, and after being there for over 3.5 hours when they tried again, I said no way and left.
Flew to Sao Paulo and got on a flight home to Toronto where I immediately went to an E.R. And was admitted to ICU within 30 minutes after being rushed into the back where blood was immediately drawn and I was hooked up to an EKG.
My point is, health care within Brazil is horrendous, and is a very big deal to someone like me. If nothing else shows why, Their health care shows why they are considered a 3rd world country. If you are in Brazil and have a heart attack or some other emergency health issue, unless you are truly blessed and lucky to live on your own, you are doomed. I did have a doctor, a private doctor who I saw once a month to get refills for my daily meds I take, he was very competent but those doctors will not be around in an emergency at the local hospitals.
If you feel that you may require emergency medicine because of an ongoing issue, especially to save your life, you really need to think long and hard about moving to Brazil, as truly, the health care in Brazil is very third world, incompetent and very unsafe including the sanitary issues and spreading of diseases.


Your post is a wake up call for all northern hemisphere people. Many friends´relatives
I´ve seen who died because of medical incompetence issues is so alarming that I´ve been planning how I would implement a MEDIVAC regimen for my own in case I enter into a life threatening emergency.

I´ve been around patients most of my life and I understand where you´re coming from. Those cases I´ve mentioned above could have been easily handled in the US. The US is probably the most expensive when it comes to medicine but worth every penny. I´ve been thinking also about that lately, how I would tackle the issue. Hell in the US, I´m all covered by 4 institutions to take care of me in any medical issue.

Remember people, medical practitioners who graduated in Brazil from MDs to nurses, etc. are not administered a government  competency test! They recruit doctors from Cuba, Bolivia and other third world countries. They do give now, a validating exam for medical graduates of MERCOSUL like Argentina but that´s about it.

Aside from medical incompetencies, there is also the chronic lack of sufficient funding for public health
facilities and the low salaries to attract the most qualified professionals...

I haven´t been sick while in Brazil, YET. But I´m preparing just in case. "LUCK FAVORS

Your symptoms appear like an auto-immune disease called SLE (Systemic Lupus Erythematosus).
If that´s the case there is a new medication being now developed by Aurinia Pharmaceuticals. It appears very promising and the ticker symbol at the stock exchange is AUPH. Just in case that you want to research that. It will probably take 2 more years before being approved by the FDA as it´s going now
into extensive clinical trials.


Thank you very much for the concern, and the info...i will look into in detail. I sincerely hope my post was not trying to cry about poor me, as I was truly only trying to give people my age or older with health issues a true and very important item, based upon a first hand experience that they need to consider before moving to Brazil.
Your very correct in that medical care in the U.S.  is by far the most expensive to recieve in the world, by is by far the utter best in the world, and it is a good example of "you get what you pay for in life".
I had always been given warnings by people, Brazillian people to include my Brazilian wife and her family just how bad the health care is in Brazil. But until I had my own life endangering emergency, I was not prepared for the incompetence and utterly disgusting hygienic conditions that are part of the "living conditions" in Brazil.
Living in Brazil is wonderful in many aspects as i originally posted, but those wonderful aspects of living in Brazil do come with a very high price tag for a person like myself that unfortunately relies upon emergency medicine to save me from dying once to four times a year, do to health issues I did not ask for but acquired due to being hurt in Iraq.
I love the peace, tranquility, beauty, living on the  veey lush and temperaye climate of the Atlantic, with all the natural beauty of Troplical conditions and wildlife while also having the Amazon Rain Forest and all it offers at my finger tips and love the cost of those when it comes to Brazil. But the country has to make hugh leaps in the area of medicine (along with other things such as political reform, wages and pensions for workers etc..) if the people of this fine country ever hope to graduate so to speak out of being a Third World Country! If people ever want to truly flourish, medical assistance, real medical assistance that saves lives has to be available. Their standards of care as they are now are plain appalling, and it's quite sad.
That said, if your younger or even my age or older, don't have health issues like myself, Brazillian life is great, it's even great for People like myself until health issues catch up to you. As said, if your facing the need of Emergency medical attention for any reason ins Brazil, you either better be lucky or blessed or both not to die, Because the emergency medicine In Brazil will not save you.
Thank you again for your kindness and info..i just really wanted to give my true, first hand thoughts about All life in Brazil, not just the horrible medicine,

Thanks a lot for your post Lawrence. I hope people in this Forum read it as a warning of which could come at anytime for foreigners living in Brazil.

Be good and I hope things will get better for you. Good luck!

All the best,


I would have to disagree with Lawrence on healthcare in Brazil. I find it equal and if not better than the care we would receive in the US. My son has a heart condition since birth and we have seen many doctors here for routine check ups and a few ER visits that were quick and very thorough. I have never seen a medical facility that wasn’t spotless either. I am beyond happy with the medical care here and have not experienced anything like you described.

We had an ER visit not long ago that included a MRI and was all done in less than 2 hours. You can’t get that service in America. I think it all depends on where you live and what medical insurance you have. I have never waited in a waiting room any longer than an hour at most. Once we show UniMed card it’s straight in.

Thank you very much Robel,
Yes, I am happy that you read my post for what is was intended, as a warning about one aspect of life in Brazil, but it is a very big aspect to consider for People such as myself.
I had other replies from the same post I had posted elsewhere that condemned me and my post as racist and bigoted. Which is actually a joke, I skimmed the replies and moved on.
Health care is no laughing matter and a very serious issue that any person should take into consideration before moving not only to Brazil, but any other country in the world. And I believe, that with people like myself regardless of age need to consider this issue as maybe the biggest reason out of a list of five let's say due to how this one solo issue can effect a person's life, every aspect of that life and the finality of it as one may have their life altered or ended in a matter of hour's.
I would also add that if a person has health issues that are stable and not life threatening issues and rely on medicine to control such issues, Brazil is wonderful and a great place to live and the price of medicine is actually Quite cheap. Blood pressure, Along with almost any other medicine I have obtained in Brazil vs U.S. is anywhere from 1/10th to 1/4 the price for the exact same medicine's by the same manufacturer. But you will always have to pay cash for meds as there is no Prescription Drug Insurance in Brazil. But again, it is absolutely, incredibly cheap for drugs. One such case in point as many men use the following drug, Cialis...5 mgs, a box of 30 cost usually only 100 Real (that's about 27 dollars)
Thank you and God Bless, stay safe and happy wherever in the world you may be,

You made only one valid point, that you have only seen and been to one hospital. I have been to Two different hospitals in Bahia, both public hospitals (sounds also to me you went to a private hospital). Both hospitals I visited operated exactly the same, both had exactly the same complete Disgusting Hygenic Conditions. I havr heard about a few hospitals in Brazil like the one you speak of, and i am assuming that it is one of these and in Sao Paulo. I do not live remotely near there. You are kidding yourself if you think or believe that all Brazilian people even have access to these private hospitals due to them not having Insurance that you point to. The insurance policy that you point out costs at least 400 Real up to 650 please, do you really think the average Brazilian can afford that on an average salary of 1200 Real? Come to Bahia and visit a hospital (not a private hospital in Salvador either)...Please do not condemn me for my post of actual facts. I have money, yes, but not access like you speak of a private hospital, nor does the majority of Brazilian people. And the amount of money that I quote for an insurance policy that you speak is from first hand knowledge as that is what my wife pays for her policy (450 Real). The health care at public hospitals that the majority of Brazilian people use (about 80%) is disgusting, decades old and out dated, severely undermanned not to mention severely and completely Unsafe due to Hygenic issues.
Before you disagree with something that you only have limited interaction with, it's best to know all of the story so to speak. My post about this was neither exaggerated nor written out of was written due to my first hand experience and seem to live in a protected bubble


Yes, there probably is some very disgusting hospitals out there and yes the vast amount of Brazilians have to rely on the government for healthcare. I feel bad that they all can’t have the same experiences I’ve had here. I would say the average salary is closer to R$1.400 a month, but still very low.

I would also expect that most of the people reading this forum are Expats and have money to buy insurance so they can go to the private hospitals too.

I’ve been to several hospitals in my area. With the children and when my wife’s grandmother was living out her last few months in a few different ICU’s.

Yes sir, like I said, I do have money, but no access due to area in which I live. Salvadore has private hospitals but not Porto, nor may be correct on the wage, but either way it is Extremely Low, and 80 to 90% of the population depending on demographics do not have insurance due to cost being at least 1/3 of their income. That is sad. And it is very sad that these people have to rely upon health care that is very inadequate to say the least, very third world and very pro the rich.

The Brazilian government tries very hard to fund public health facilities and the shortage of doctors nationwide only exacerbates the situation as the people running the government welcomes foreign doctors to practice medicine in their country.

One problem is the unwillingness of local Brazilian  doctors to practice rural medicine with the salary of ($5,000-R$6,000). That was approximately 2 years ago. Cuban, Bolivian and other doctors have picked up the slack.

Another problem is the low pay that the government pays per consultation to Brazilian medical graduates at local SUS clinics and hospitals.  A Brazilian colleague, also approximately the same duration as I stated above was being paid R$16 per consultation compared to R$120 by private practice! One of them resulted to just man the emergency room (24hr shift) per weekend for a salary of R$15,000.

They seek to treat if possible only private consultations. One doctor friend of mine who´s got a clinic with X-rays and a laboratory makes about R$50,000 per month.


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