Merry Christmas in Brazilian Portuguese and Then Some
The end of the year is coming! And, you’re here looking for some Portuguese Christmas words to say to your friends.
But wouldn’t it be nice if you knew way more than simply how to say Merry Christmas in Brazilian Portuguese?
Perhaps, why Brazilians get all dressed up on Christmas Eve? Or which song we can’t stand anymore?
These are some of the things you’re going to learn in this short report.
How do you say “Merry Christmas” in Portuguese?
It simply “Feliz Natal.”
Let’s not overcomplicate that.
And how do you pronounce it? Remember, the final L in Natal is actually a vowel in Brazilian Portuguese.
But of course, if you want to be a bit more natural, you can say:
- Eu te desejo um Feliz Natal. I wish you a Merry Christmas.
- Tenha um Feliz Natal. Have a Merry Christmas. (a bit more formal)
To go a bit further, you can also see how to greet like a Brazilian in this article.
How Do You Say “Happy Holidays” in Brazilian Portuguese?
You might say “Happy Holidays” as an umbrella term for all the end of year celebrations.
But in Brazil, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, and other celebrations are not widely known.
So, when we say happy holidays in Brazil we usually mean New Year’s Eve — because we party on that day — and the Christmas celebrations if you say it before December 24.
But when my friends send me Christmas cards the usually write:
- Boas Festas e Feliz Ano Novo! Happy holidays and happy new year.
But you could simply write or say: Boas Festas!
If you’re sending your friends a Christmas cards before New Year’s Eve (Noite de Ano Novo), then you can include both happy Christmas and happy holidays.
If you’re meeting with your friends after Christmas eve, but before New Year’s Eve, you can say:
- Feliz Natal atrasado e Feliz Ano Novo adiantado! Belated Merry Christmas and Happy New Year in advance!
But a funny thing:
We usually say Feliz Ano Novo either on or after New Year’s Eve.
Before then, we prefer “Boas Festas”.
Brazil’s a big country. Don’t expect everyone to conform to these rules 😊
Some Important Vocabulary about the End-Of-Year Holidays In Brazil
December 31 is the last day of the year for most Brazilians.
I don’t know exactly why, but most people refer to that as the New Year’s Day (Dia de Ano Novo). Of course, by law the first day of the new year is January 1 (Primeiro de Janeiro).
But because of that little confusion, we refer to the evening of December 31 as New Year’s Eve (Noite de Ano Novo).
And in Brazil, we throw a big national party called Réveillon. It comes from French and, from what I’m told, it means “the passing to a new year.” But many Brazilians prefer the Portuguese version:
- A noite da virada or a véspera de Ano Novo.
And because I know you’re very astute, you’ve noticed that “virada” comes from the verb “virar”. The noun means something like “the flipping”. It makes sense :-).
Ceia de Natal. Christmas supper.
Brazilians like eating chickpeas (grão-de-bico), codfish salad (salada de bacalhau), and French toast — but in Portuguese, it’s called rabanada.
And we eat a bird called Chester. But I’ve never seen a chester alive.
We also like peru (stress on RU. Turkey). But it’s expensive and the very word has some unwanted sexual connotations that might give uncles ideas for bad jokes (see below).
Véspera de Natal. The day before Christmas.
We celebrate Christmas on the day before Christmas. And the word véspera means the day before. Véspera de Natal, Véspera de viagem…
Papai Noel. Santa Claus.
This creepy old man is also sometimes called o bom velhinho, or “the little good old man”.
He burglarizes people’s homes to bring them Christmas gifts.
And I say he burglarizes because in Brazil we don’t have chimneys (chaminés) usually. He has to come through the windows.
Feliz Natal e um Próspero Ano Novo. Merry Christmas and a prosperous new year.
That’s how we usually greet people regarding the end of year celebrations.
And How Do We Celebrate Christmas in Brazil?
We have a family gathering just like in other countries.
But we have some Christmas fixtures that can never be left out… And that Brazilians can’t stand anymore.
Summer project (Projeto Verão)
John has eaten everything he could during eleven months of a year. Then, in December he decides he will get fit so he can enjoy the beaches in January.
Way to go, John. That’s very realistic.
And that’s what many Brazilians do when it’s Christmas — o Projeto Verão (PT).
They say to themselves, “I am not going to binge eat during this Christmas.” They believe they can do it. But then, they overeat and tell themselves that they’re going to go back to the gym and get fit for next summer.
Well, I also do that 🙂
Secret Santa (Amigo Secreto)
I don’t know if in other countries people arrange this kind of trap even in the workplace.
Because in Brazil we do.
And it becomes a competition, as you can see in the hysterical video by Porta dos Fundos.
(By the way, the dirty version of this innocent game is called amigo da onça, which is an expression to refer to bad friends.)
Uncle Jokes (Piadas de tio)
When I lived with my parents, we would always welcome everyone in the family. We had the bigger house.
And uncle REDACTED would always crack the same stupid jokes that he did when I was a kid.
And it’s been a long time since I was a kid.
So it’s Christmas (Então é Natal)
An accomplished singer, Simone went on to have an extensive career with decades under her belt.
But people remember her for this only one song — Então É Natal.
And it’s been playing at Christmas every year since 1995 when it was first recorded.
Get dressed to stay home (Se arrumar para ficar em casa)
I think that’s the funniest one.
Because Christmas is a family holiday in Brazil, we tend to stick together during Christmas eve.
Anyhow, we still get fully dressed in our best outfit. And all that to sit on the couch, watch the midnight mass, and go sleep after Christmas supper.
And How Do You Celebrate Christmas
Tell me in the comments below: how do you celebrate Christmas? Or, better still, do you celebrate Christmas?
And if you have any questions, just ask 🙂
For more relevant Brazilian Portuguese vocabulary, you can always head to our content-rich vocabulary section.
(If you want to have a more “gift-able” introduction to the Christmas traditions in Brazil, Christmas in Brazil might be a good book for you.)