With the Summer Olympics coming up in just a couple of months, I thought it was the perfect time to put together a Brazilian Around the World Party for my niece and nephew. From the boisterous streets of Rio de Janeiro to the wilds of the Amazon rainforest, there’s so much to explore in South America’s largest country. Vamos!
Carnival is the most famous holiday in Brazil, garnering international fame. Like other Carnival celebrations, it’s a holiday marking the beginning of Lent. Brazilian Carnival is unique because it combines the European traditions brought over by the Portuguese with African culture. One of the most famous results of this cultural crossover is samba, a musical and dance style with strong African roots. During Carnival, people will often dress in bright, colorful costumes or masks and hit the streets to dance and march in parades. Kids can use a paper plate to cut out a mask. Or check out your local crafts store to see if they have ready-to-decorate masks. Paint the mask with bright colors, add a plume of festive feathers, and you’re ready for your own Carnival celebration!
Brazil’s borders encompass a majority of the Amazon rainforest. The Amazon rainforest is the largest and most diverse tropical rainforest in the world. Altogether, the forest is about twice the size of India. According to the WWF, it houses 10% of the world’s known species and is home to almost 350 different ethnic groups. Each year the rainforest can receive up to 100 inches of rain or more. Bring the sounds of the Amazon rainforest to your home with this easy-to-make rain stick. You’ll need a thick cardboard tube to start with. I recommend using a wrapping paper tube or something that has thicker cardboard than your standard paper towel tube. Insert 1/2-inch brads all around the tube. These will slow down the contents of your rain stick and give you that slow, pitter-patter sound of rain. Cap off one end one end by gluing on a circle of cardboard. Fill the tube with rice, dried beans, or popcorn kernels. Each will give you a slightly different sound, so experiment and see which you prefer. Cap off the other end with another circle of cardboard and go to town with the paint, glitter, etc.
About a year ago I watched some travel vlogs on YouTube exploring Brazil. Of the places the vlogger explored, one that stuck in my mind was the Escadaria Selarón, or the Selarón Steps, in Rio de Janeiro. An artist decided to repair the dilapidated steps in front of his home with yellow, green, and blue tiles. The project snowballed until the entire stairway was eventually covered in a colorful, eclectic mosaic. The stairs have been featured in magazines, TV shows, commercials, and music videos. You can create your own multicolored mosaic with cardstock and glue. Just trace whatever shape you want to create on a square of paper. Cut out a bunch of 1/2-inch squares of colorful paper to use as your mosaic tiles. They don’t have to be very precise because you’ll end up cutting and tweaking pieces to fit into blank space later. This project requires more time and patience than the others, so give yourself plenty of time or work on it over multiple days.
Also knowns as Brazilian truffles, brigadeiros are a popular dessert made from condensed milk, cocoa powder, butter, and chocolate sprinkles. Sometimes they’re also rolled in coconut, nuts, or fruit. They’re a popular treat at birthday parties and many other celebrations. I found this tasty, easy-to-follow recipe for brigadeiros on Multicultural Kid Blogs. Rather than traditional chocolate sprinkles, I used whatever sprinkles I had on-hand. It’s a great way to use up an excess sprinkles you may have stashed in your pantry. These were an absolute hit, especially with my niece, who was amazed by how I got all that gooey chocolate goodness inside those colorful sprinkles.
Pão de queijo
Pão de queijo is a cheese bread that is a popular snack and breakfast food in Brazil. It was originally made by African slaves who would use cassava root to make bread rolls. It wasn’t until dairy products became readily available to Afro-Brazilians that milk and cheese were added. Check out this delicious recipe for pão de queijo on Kid World Citizen. It’s simple and has tips for getting kids involved. Unfortunately I don’t have a picture of them because my nephew had a bout of food poisoning and asked to make them another day. But he gave them two thumbs-up and said they were quite tasty.
It would be preposterous to even think about having a Brazil party without soccer. Err…I mean football! Football is a passion for many Brazilians. According to all-knowing Wikipedia, over 10,000 Brazilians play professionally around the world. So dig out a soccer ball and start up your own amateur match in the backyard. Don’t have a soccer ball? Grab a beach ball, bouncy ball, or whatever else you can find. Just get out there and have fun! Looking for more old-fashioned games to play? Here’s a site with a list of other traditional Brazilian children’s games, like queimada or cinco marias.
Kickback and enjoy a movie some time during the day. Rio is a fun, family-friendly choice that gives kids a taste of Brazilian culture. It’s available on DVD though Netlfix.
What other Brazilian traditions do you enjoy? Let me know in the comments. If you enjoyed this post, please share it on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.