Christmas Around the World - Brazil

When most of us think of Christmastime, visions of hams, turkeys, rolls, cakes, pies, and other goodies dance in our heads. And while many Christmas traditions take place outside the dining room, the festivities almost always revolve around food. We've found this to be the case no matter where you live, so take a moment to share in holiday traditions and favorite recipes from Church members around the world.


Feliz Natal! Down in Brazil, the Christmas season is in the summer. Papai Noel, or Father Christmas, comes from Greenland and wears silk clothes because it's so hot outside. On Christmas Eve, children leave out their shoes, and Papai Noel comes during the night and fills them with small gifts, and leaves other gifts hidden around the house.

Because Brazil used to be Portuguese colony and has a strong influence from other European immigrants (like German), they take many European Christmas traditions, like the Christmas dinner. Although it is unusual for a summer day, they eat a large dinner with turkey, ham, rice, beans, and fresh fruit. Many families have a midnight dinner.

Many Brazilians celebrate the Christmas season until Three Kings Day on January 6. This day celebrates when the Magi brought gifts to Baby Jesus.

Feijoada (Brazilian Meat and Bean Stew)
  • 1 pound black beans
  • 1 pound pork shoulder
  • 1 pound smoked sausage
  • 1 pound carne seca or beef jerky
  • 3-4 strips smoked bacon
  • 4 pork chops
  • 2 small or 1 large onion
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • Olive oil
  • 2 large bay leaves
  • Hot pepper sauce (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Wash the beans and soak them overnight. Next day, put them in a pot of new water and boil until they are tender; this will take at least an hour. As the beans are cooking, put pork shoulder, sausage, carne seca (available at Latin markets), bacon, and pork chops in a pot of water and boil for 1 1/2 hours. Cut the onions and garlic in small pieces and cook them in oil until they are a bit golden. Add them to the meat. Add the cooked beans to the meat, then add the bay leaves, hot pepper sauce, and salt and pepper. Cook for another hour until all the flavors are mixed together. Remove the bay leaves and separate the meat. Cut the meats in slices and put the beans on the middle of a platter with the meats around the sides. This is best prepared while listening to good Brazilian music and best eaten with friends and family. Makes 12 servings. 

Feijoada is the traditional dish of Brazil. Everyone has a different favorite version; the exact ingredients are not as important as how you eat it. You should be celebrating something - anything - when you eat it with your family and friends. This is especially good for celebrating Christmas with all the people you love.

In Brazil we celebrate often - it doesn't matter what - and so we eat often. Part of the celebrating is the wonderful Brazilian sounds of music and conversation and happiness. It is all part of this delicious celebration. You can change the ingredients according to what's available and what you like best. Whatever you choose, remember that Feijoada is about more than just eating. It is about celebrating!

Leontina Van der Ham de Silva
Alameida Ward
Partenon Stake
Porto Alegre

Recipes and experiences excerpted from Worldwide Christmas Cookbook by Deanna Buxton. Copyright 2009, Covenant.

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