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Customs & Traditions in Brazil

Updated: Oct 22, 2021



General Etiquette

  • Standard greetings vary from region to region. The most common and appropriate greeting for anyone is a handshake. In Brazil, handshakes are usually firm, although some may prefer lighter handshakes.

  • Brazilians usually take the time to greet each person individually, making direct eye contact.

  • Do not refer to Brazilians as ‘Latin Americans’. Typically, ‘Latin America’ is thought to refer to those countries that have connections to Spain.

  • Brazilians tend to interact in a warm-hearted manner.

  • Engage in discussions on topics such as soccer (football) and the natural landscapes of Brazil. These are welcome topics of conversation.

  • Avoid discussing or debating politics, poverty, or religion.

  • Try not to be bothered by the lack of concern for punctuality. Arriving 15-30 minutes after the designated time is not considered late in Brazil.

  • Be open to invitations to join in social activities such as a game of soccer. It is a great way to interact with others and to build stronger relationships.

  • Show compassion for people’s problems and needs. It demonstrates a sense of consideration and warmth that is likely to be very appreciated by your Brazilian companion.

  • When talking to a Brazilian companion, inquire into the well-being of their family, spouse, children, etc. Family life is considerably important to Brazilians.

  • Light and inoffensive humor play a larger part in Brazilian conversation. So avoid being sarcastic or mocking during conversations. Brazilians are generally optimistic and light-hearted and wit or irony may be misunderstood.

  • When it comes to queuing etiquette, the concept of ‘first come, first serve’ does not always apply. Cutting in line may be tolerated if the person who comes later believes they are more important than others in line or they know someone who can assist with jumping the line.


Family

  • Family is very important to the Brazilian people and grown-up children often remain with parents until they marry.

  • Extended family members tend to keep close ties with one another and elderly parents are looked after, often living with one of their children.

  • Historically, family sizes were quite large but in recent decades people are having fewer children, particularly in the more urban areas.

  • There is a difference between types of marriages in Brazil, namely civil and religious. However, religious marriages are on the decline, particularly in urban areas.

  • Traditionally, Brazilians were expected to marry at a young age and make babies early in their life. This is changing in contemporary society, with an increasing number of people going to university and seeking financial security before marriage. These attitudes are more predominant in the urban middle class.

  • Divorce was not legalized until 1977 due to opposition from the Catholic Church.