10+ Things About Brazilian Culture That Make It So Unique
For some people, it’s hard to imagine an apartment without carpet or friendly neighborhood valets. But these aren’t the only surprising things you’ll find in Brazil. In this country, women almost never use razors and they wash the floors in a way you’d never imagine. Even gestures in this country can have totally different meanings. For example, the innocent “okay” gesture is almost the same as giving the middle finger here.
Bright Side found out some things about life in Brazil that’ll shock the rest of the world.
1. Women have a special way of dealing with leg hair.
Generally, in Brazil, leg hair is considered masculine, so many women don’t want to make a spectacle of it, but Brazilian women have a special way of dealing with leg hair. Instead of cutting it, they bleach it.
Many women noticed that their blonde friends could get away with having a little fuzz on their legs. Because of this, bleaching hair to a lighter color became a popular, rather painless, alternative.
2. They understand punctuality in a very peculiar way.
Punctuality in Brazil is pretty special. If you have an appointment planned for 9 AM, don’t expect anyone to show up before 9:15 AM. If you are invited to a party at 8 PM, don’t come before 9 PM, otherwise the hosts will be very surprised.
3. If you want to park your car, a friendly valet might be closer than you think.
In Brazil, there are people that can take care of your car for you. They’re called “flanelinhas.” This is how it works: you park in a spot (not a private parking lot) and people come up to you and offer to look after your car. You agree and leave, and the person will be waiting with your car when you come back. Oftentimes, this service is free (but it’s considered proper to pay them anyway).
4. It’s better to not show off your things or money.
Unfortunately, there are many pickpockets in Brazilian cities, as is the case in many other cities around the world. Just use common sense and become familiar with your surroundings. If someone sees you with an iPhone or a lot of cash, you might lose both very soon, so try not to be too flashy. Don’t leave your things anywhere. And it’s recommended that women not wear expensive jewelry (rings, earrings, bracelets, and other items).
5. The locals carry toothpaste and toothbrushes everywhere.
Some local people brush their teeth after each time they eat at work, in cafes, or anywhere else. When this is the case, it likely means they carry everything they need around with them, from toothpaste to their own toothbrush.
Additionally, you may also see people wash their hands both before and after they go to the restroom, and there are times when this behavior is expected of tourists just as much as it is of locals.
6. In Brazil, they love dogs more than cats.
Among all of the pet owners in Brazil, 58% have a dog and only 28% have a cat.
Dogs here are real family members. They dress them in shirts and even socks. Some dogs wear jewelry (for example, earrings) which are fixed to their fur with non-toxic glue.
7. Hundreds of languages are spoken in Brazil.
As The Simpsons famously joked about, tourists like to assume that Brazilians speak Spanish, but the national language is Portuguese and it’s spoken by around 98% of the population.
Brazilian Portuguese is spoken and written slightly differently than how it is in Europe, similar to the differences between American English and British English.
But Portuguese is really just the tip of the iceberg. There are actually over 200 indigenous languages spoken by Brazil’s natives, like Arára and Ye’kuana. There is also a Brazilian sign language.
In addition to that, there are also languages that were brought over by immigrants, like Japanese or Italian, some of which have legal status in certain regions. In case you were wondering, only around 4% of Brazilians speak Spanish.
8. Flushing toilet paper is the worst thing you could do.
The local sewage structure can’t handle toilet paper, which is why nobody ever throws it into the toilet. Every house, cafe, and hotel has a special bucket.
It’s important to understand that if you try to flush toilet paper, it will clog the pipes and everything in there will just pour out on the floor.
By the way, it’s better to carry toilet paper with you, because many public places just don’t have it and there is a risk that you could be in an awkward situation.
9. A weekly pedicure and manicure is a regular ritual for local Brazilian women.
Nail salons in Brazilian cities are very popular and almost every woman goes there once a week. It doesn’t matter what your social status or income is, you have to have good-looking nails. The local women really love bright colors, like red.
10. The most popular hair color there is blonde.
When we think about Brazilian women, we imagine brunettes. But contrary to that notion, many Brazilian women love going blonde.
This was proven to be true when a newcomer to the country once talked about a time they went to a prestigious restaurant where the locals were eating. There were around 10 women there and all of them were natural brunettes that had dyed their hair blonde.
11. Brazilians don’t wash floors the way we do.
In many bathrooms in Brazil, there is a drain in the floor. This helps clean up the kitchen and other rooms. And they don’t use vacuum cleaners often, but they do sweep the floors regularly.
The floors are washed with giant squeegees called “rodo.”
12. Taking a shower in most homes and hotels is pretty risky.
Hotels and apartments in Brazil are equipped with electric showers that scare many people because the wires stick straight out of the showerhead.
13. Brazilians don’t like carpet.
A floor covered with carpets is not a Brazilian thing. One of the reasons is because carpets are hard to clean. The classic Brazilian floor is wood and granite.
14. São Paulo has its own “Little Tokyo.”
The Liberdade district in São Paulo, Brazil, is estimated to be the largest ethnic Japanese community outside of Japan itself.
The Japanese presence began in the neighborhood in 1912 and the country’s influence is very visible in the area. Notably, a 30-foot-tall red torii arch marks the entrance to Liberdade, as it was established in 1974.
Cosplayers dressed like anime and manga characters are also said to be a common sight in the area.
Bonus: Brazil’s Carnival attracts (and generates) millions each year!
In New Orleans, people have Mardi Gras to blow off steam before Lent, but Brazil has one of the
biggest Fat Tuesday celebrations on Earth, at least according to the Guinness World Records, known as Carnival.
Associated with parades and lavish costumes, the celebration is known for attracting millions of people each year, including thousands of tourists, and generating millions in money. The annual festival traditionally starts on the Friday afternoon before Ash Wednesday and goes until Ash Wednesday at noon.
What did you find surprising about Brazil? What excites and interests you most about the country?