Cultural Tips for Brazil

Cultural Tips for Brazil

  |   Posted: December 05, 2002

  • Portuguese is the dominant language in Brazil. Be aware that Brazilians do not perceive themselves as Hispanic and, in some cases, will take offense if addressed in Spanish.

  • Brazilians tend to stand very close to each other.

  • Brazilians usually greet each other with long handshakes and noticeable eye contact; close friends will often embrace.

  • Hugging and backslapping are common among Brazilians, but sometimes some Brazilians will refrain from using these gestures with foreigners who may not be as receptive to this kind of contact.

  • Women will often greet each other by touching cheek to cheek, then kissing the air.

  • Women will often kiss each other by alternating cheeks -- twice if they are married and three times if they are single.

  • Frequent touching of the arms, hands, or shoulders sometimes occur during the course of a conversation.

  • Maintain a soft-spoken manner.

  • Say "oi" for "hello" and "tchau" for goodbye.

  • Brazilians often snap their fingers while flailing their hands up and down to add emphasis to a statement or indicate that something occurred "long ago."

  • Pulling at one's earlobe is an old style of showing appreciation for food. You hardly see it used these days.

  • Flicking the fingertips underneath the chin is another old gesture, not common these days, that indicates you don't know or understand the answer to a question.

  • The "OK" sign (using your first finger and thumb to form a circle) is considered vulgar.

  • When things are going well, it's acceptable to use the "thumbs up" sign.

  • Yawning or stretching in public is frowned upon. Burping in public is also considered very bad.

  • Although there are lots of smokers in Brazil, smoking is illegal in most public places.

  • People never eat on public transportation. A hot dog can be eaten on the street, but nothing more than that!

  • Don't push or shove people in lineups -- even if others are doing so.

  • Be careful when crossing the street since traffic is chaotic and extremely fast!

  • Machismo in Brazil takes a milder, more subtle form than in other Latin American countries. Moreover, it's important for men to appear self-assured and "in control" at all times.

  • Brazilians are easy to approach and anybody will talk to you on the streets despite the language barrier.

  • Brazilians usually admire international visitors.

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