CULTURE: GENERAL INFORMATION
The artistic, cultural and folkloric scenario of this immense country is among the most lively and multifaceted in the world. Like all stereotypes, even those related to Brazil correspond to a large extent to reality and describe a people who love fun, conviviality, music, party and who, despite the immense difficulties experienced, are capable of a lifestyle in to whom the space reserved for the more pleasant side of existence is always the most important. The main traditions underlying the Brazilian reality are three and differ from the rest of the continent due to the presence of the Portuguese component (and not the Spanish one, here decidedly more contained), amalgamated with the Indian and African ones (which arrived in the country following the trafficking of slaves). Subsequent European and Asian contributions then contributed to giving further eclecticity to the ethnic and cultural mosaic of Brazil. According to homosociety, within the Brazilian panorama, literature occupies a very prominent place and in every phase, from the early sixteenth-century lyric, to the era of the domination of European influences, to modernism, to the avant-gardes, it has been able to express personalities of exceptional caliber, such as Joaquím Maria Machado de Assis and Jorge Amado, always managing to grasp, through the words of his singers, the multiple and contradictory souls of such a vast and multifaceted country: the proverbial joy, like the saddest events in national history. Parallel to the literary one is the reflection that can be made about music, the true “accompaniment” of life in Brazil, also declined in rhythms and sounds that are the result of intercontinental intersections and “mother” of artists who have entered the Olympus of world music, like AC Jobim and Gilberto Gil. Also famous is the work of several Brazilian architects (above all Oscar Niemeyer), protagonists at home and in the major cities of the world of a language that is both innovative and universal. But there are many other areas in which Brazil has been able to reach absolute heights: among these, photography (one of the masters of the twentieth century is Sebastião Salgado, b.1944), and sport, especially football, the subject of a passion without brakes. And it is Brazil that gave this sport the best player of all time: Edson Arantes do Nascimento, the famous Pele. As for the list of the 12 cultural sites of Brazil that UNESCO protects as a World Heritage Site, we include the Historic City of Ouro Preto (added in 1980), the Historic Center of Olinda (1982), the Jesuit Missions of the Guaraní (1983, 1984; joint site with Argentina), Salvador de Bahia (1985), the Sanctuary of the Good Jesus in Congonhas (1985), Brasília (1987), the Sierra de Capivara National Park (1991), the historic center of São Luís (1997), the historical center of the city of Diamantina (1999), the historical center of Goiás (2001), the São Francisco square in São Cristóvão (2010) and the Carioca landscapes in Rio de Janeiro (2012).
In the multiform expressions and customs of Brazil, it is possible, in many cases, to recognize the different specific weight of each of the components (the Indian, black and Portuguese ones) which constitute its fundamental substrate. In addition to folk dances, as regards folklore in the strict sense, the derivations of African origin can be traced mainly in a certain oral tradition (tales, legends, fairy tales), in numerous dishes and sweets and in some particular elements related to carnival celebrations (originally related to the Christmas holidays). On the other hand, of the Lusitanian folkloric elements, the contributions of medieval Portuguese culture should be emphasized: folk medicine, funeral rites, family roles, such as those of godparents. L’ Catholic element is present in some forms of religiosity (steeped in superstition and taboo) and in the whole cycle of celebrations of the Catholic tradition, diversified into a series of local repertoires; however, there are national festivals that take the form of sumptuous and spectacular scenographies: the cycle of Christmas celebrations, that of New Year’s celebrations and the cycle of the Divine (Holy Spirit), corresponding to the European Pentecost. The lively taste of the party, typical of the Brazilian people, also translates into the folkloric aspects of sports cheering, very strong for futebol (magical rituals are often organized before matches). The passion with which the Brazilians follow football is absolutely unique, as evidenced by an emblematic episode: in the 1950 World Cup final, which Brazil hosted, the home team was defeated in Rio de Janeiro by Uruguay; the expectation and hopes of an entire nation went up in smoke, three days of national mourning were proclaimed, several people at the stadium suffered heart attacks and dozens more who had staked a large part of their possessions on a game deemed a formality took off the life. The event that, however, best summarizes and enhances the typical spirit of Brazilian folklore is the carnival. The dances, the parades and the celebrations last for a few days without interruption, but the preparation of the choreography in the samba schools, the costumes, the parades and the floats take many months a year; the best known and wildest (although perhaps, today, the least authentic) is certainly that of Rio de Janeiro, which ends with the challenge between the schools in the Sambodromo designed by O. Niemeyer. Alongside the general folklore, particular uses and customs must be remembered, connected to specific working conditions (there is a folklore of the pampas, centered on the figure of the gaucho) or to immigrant ethnic groups (Italians, Germans, Japanese). The forms of craftsmanship are very rich, especially those of Indian origin and those of African origin (pottery, baskets, amulets, fabrics). The cuisine is simple and tasty, largely derived from other countries; among the most popular dishes are feijão e arroz (rice and beans), and the richer feijoada, which combines different types of meat, vegetables or other with black beans. Also popular is the churrasco, based on roasted meats of various qualities. Salvador’s cuisine is particularly accurate, specializing in fish (vatapá, moqueca de peixe) and mainly of African origin. Very common in the fazendas is sobremeza, a set of cheeses (often eaten with excellent quality jams). The most consumed drinks are: cerveja (beer) and various fermented and slightly alcoholic juices; much consumed, at any time, coffee and cha mate (Brazilian tea), a typical drink of the gauchos: they drink it from a common container (cuia), sipping it with a silver stem (bombilha).