15 Habits You Can't Help Picking Up If You Live in Brazil

Palms and Two Brothers in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Palms and Two Brothers in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil | © Aleksandar Todorovic/Shutterstock
Photo of Sarah Brown
11 October 2017

The Brazilian way of life is big, open, and wonderfully in your face. People in Brazil try to see the positives and joy all the time and, after living there, these endearing qualities start to rub off on you. There are many other quirks that you will find yourself doing without even realising. Here are some habits that you will probably pick up if you live in Brazil.

Wearing tiny bikinis

Brazilian-style bikini | © Pixabay

Thong bikinis and tanned butts are a way of beach life in Brazil—anything else will seem huge. Luckily, plenty of beach vendors sell classic, Brazilian-style bikinis. The smaller, the better.

Being 10–15 minutes late

Walk, don't run - no one's in a hurry | © Vincent Albanese / Flickr

In the beginning, you’ll find yourself rushing to arrive on time only to be kept waiting for at least 10 minutes. After a while, you’ll begin to realize that arriving 15 minutes late is not actually late and you’ll start enjoying the more leisurely approach to time.

Driving through red lights

Rules of the road are a bit more lax in Brazil | © The Photographer / Wikimedia Commons

When driving, it’s perfectly acceptable to drive through red lights if there are no other cars around, especially at night. The police allow it to preventing assaults while driving through empty streets in the dark.

Canceling plans on rainy days

Brazil in the rain | © Secom Bahia/WikiCommons

Don’t bother looking for that umbrella or digging out a raincoat. Brazil has so few rainy days that it’s just easier to postpone plans than to adjusting to the wet outdoors.

Going to the salon outside of special occasions

Spa day | Breaking Pics / Pixabay

For women, getting nails done, eyebrows styled, and bikini line waxed are not just for special occasions but part of the weekly routine. It can seem a bit excessive, but regular ‘me time’ and pamperings is easily embraced.

Talking to strangers

Striking up a conversation with a stranger is anything but strange in Brazil | Robert_z_Ziemi / Pixabay

Making small talk is not awkward in Brazil—rather, it’s relished. Idle chitchat and sharing stories with total strangers at bus stops is not at all uncommon.

Kissing people as a greeting

A kiss on the cheek to say "hi" is standard | Simon Blackley / Flickr

Whether a complete stranger or a lifelong friend, greeting someone with a kiss on the cheek is the polite thing to do, but the number of kisses varies (one in Sao Paulo, two in Rio de Janeiro), so check to avoid that awkward moment of going for an extra kiss when the other person isn’t expecting it. Women greet everyone like this, but men meet men with a handshake and friendly back slap or shoulder pat.

Finding ways to not say “no”

Don't plan too strictly | 742680 / Pixabay

Brazilians are extremely friendly people and don’t want to let others down by saying, “no.” Instead, they make vague promises without necessarily planning to keep them. Though confusing at first, it’s just a way of being sociable. Before long, directness feels harsh, and carefree planning feels normal.

Spending holidays on the beach

Beach in Brazil | RenatoSerra / Pixabay

Whenever there’s a public holiday—and there are plenty—it becomes a beach day. Even if it’s raining, Brazilians will travel to nearby seaside towns to get their beach fix.

Leaving cans on the beach

Leave beer cans on the beach / Max Pixel

While it may seem like littering, leaving cans on the beach lets impoverished people collect and recycle them for money, so be sure to leave beer or soda cans next to bins rather than inside.

Drinking beer in small cups

Brazilians drink beer in small glasses | Max Pixel

Pints are a rare sight in Brazil because they get warm quickly, so Brazilians drink their beer in small glasses to keep it chilled long enough to finish.

Dining late

Evening dinners | PDPhotos / Pixabay

Don’t think about inviting people around for dinner before 8pm. Like in much of Latin America, late dinners are normal and may take some getting used to, but they quickly become routine.

Eating heavy meals

Brazilian food | © Pixabay

Brazil’s main dishes tend to be heavy with rice, beans, and meat, sometimes with roasted cassava or farofa. These foods are filling and sleep-inducing but bring so much comfort.

Exercising becoming fun

Exercising in Brazil | © Pixabay

Aesthetic-oriented Brazilians take pride in appearances, so exercise (running, weightlifting, hiking, dancing, and surfing) is a standard lifestyle to stay trim and healthy. Before long, digging out running shoes and joining one of the many exercise classes available in all Brazilian cities will be second nature.

Listening to samba and funk

Funky dancing in Rio | © Ministério da Cultura / Flickr

Samba and carioca funk can only be found in Brazil, and this unique mix of music represents the spirit of the country.