Brazil 101 – Culture Continued

This photo in lieu of a random stock photo of teeth because here we all have toothy grins, for some reason. Also because I know my brother-in-law is one of the three people who read my blog. Looove youuuuuu, Keeeviiiiin!

Personal hygiene

As a general rule, Brazilians are extremely clean people. Personal hygiene is very important. If you hop on public transportation in the morning you will be greeted with pleasant wafts of perfume, lotions, and potions.

Brazilian custom, again as a general rule, is to shower every day. Most often in the evening. You must shower before bed. You are welcome to shower in the morning, after a workout, whenever you’d like, but you must always shower before bed. It’s an unspoken rule, but be sure everyone will observe that you went to bed without a shower. Yeah… …you will most likely be judged for it.

I reason this custom comes from the fact that Brazil is normally hot. You took a shower when you came home from the gym at 2pm? By bedtime, another shower not only sounds refreshing but will likely do you good. Regardless of the weather or the day’s activities, Brazilians will shower at least once a day, right before bed.

Speaking of showers, notice how I haven’t said “bath” or “bathe”. Brazilian homes have showers, never bathtubs. There is usually at least one drain in the bathroom, and cleaning the bathroom often involves scrubbing the tiles and everything clean with soap and bleach and then rinsing it off.

I once remarked to a Brazilian friend here in Canada about how different it is to clean bathrooms here in North America. She said, “Yeah, here we just move the dirt around.”

I mentioned in a previous post about the excellent dental care available in Brazil. Brazilians are also particular about their teeth. Braces are affordable, and people in various socio-economic classes and age groups get their teeth fixed. Men, women, children, teenagers, young adults, braces are not reserved for the pre-teens of upper-middle-class families.

It is quite common to brush your teeth after a meal. Don’t be surprised when someone says, “I’m going to my room to brush my teeth. I’ll meet you there” after lunch. Maybe now you know it’s a habit, surprise them by saying and doing it yourself. They’ll be very approving.

Random useful little tidbits

  • It is unnecessary to remove your shoes within the house. The tiles are cold, everyone is wearing shoes indoors. Please wipe your feet, but no need to remove your footwear.
  • Normally, faucets in kitchens and bathrooms will only have cold water. Hands, faces, dishes, are all washed in cold water.
  • All stoves are gas stoves. Yes, that is a propane tank in the kitchen.
  • Most Brazilian homes have no airconditioning or heating. If you go in the winter (the seasons below the Equator are the exact opposite of the seasons above the Equator. If it’s summer for you, it’s winter for them. If it’s autumn here, it’s spring there, etc.) be prepared. Brazil is a tropical country, but it is also very big. If you are visiting the South of Brazil (São Paulo and below) know that it can get quite chilly. Take layers and at least one medium jacket. There is no respite from the cold by going indoors. Houses are concrete (no insulation) and merely provide shelter from the wind.
  • ???? does not mean what you think it means. To put it “nicely”, this gesture means “screw you”. So while you’re saying “okay,” “great” or “perfect”, the person on the receiving end might respond quite differently. Instead, use ????.
  • Speaking of hand gestures, you will notice we speak with our whole upper body. ???? Lots of hand gestures will be going on. Be forewarned.

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