Nurit Gil

7 curiosities about Brazilians that every Israeli should know

Photo by Mariano Diaz on Unsplash

Brazil is a cultural melting pot. There is the amazing brunette who inhabits your imagination as well as the German colony in southern Brazil who eats Knöpfle and speaks Hunsrückisch. There are Japanese, Italian, Spanish, Korean communities. Caboclo, cafuzo, indigenous. And black and white. So, despite your surprised “wow, I never imagined Brazilians look like you” or having freckles, Polish color and a Israeli face, I can make feijoada, prefer avocado with sugar and my mother tongue is Portuguese.

Brazilian women kiss. We smile, hug and kiss to say hello or goodbye, when meeting friends, introducing ourselves to strangers. We kiss men and women and children. On the street, at the bank, at the parents’ meeting. It is important to emphasize that this is not an invitation to intimacy and that we try our best to contain the momentum knowing that for you, it can be embarrassing. But it is not easy. Put yourself in our shoes: imagine that tomorrow you decide to live in Brazil and someone tells you that people there don’t simply ask how much a stranger pays for rent at the risk of crossing the morality barrier. Yeah, we kiss.

We greatly lack New Year’s Eve. In Brazil, the regular year ends on Christmas Eve and only begins after the Carnival, with climax on December 31st, when everyone dresses in white to honor Yemanja, a female orixa from Umbanda. Then there are the fireworks, champagne, kisses for good luck and, under the fear of having a bad year, we jump seven waves, don’t turn our backs on the sea, and eat lentils. Yes, I am Jewish, but oxala, it’s always better to follow superstition.

Brazilian people don’t usually touch food with their hands — especially someone else’s food — and we would really appreciate if no one touches ours, too. Napkins exists for the sake of hygiene. In our dream supermarket, all breads come packed, no one puts their hands on the chestnut tray and people behind the counter wear gloves. And that goes for restaurants, bakeries, outings with friends. Our hand-food relationship is quite frigid. Thanks.

Do you take a bath? Comb your hair, wash hands, change clothes? Then why, hell, do you think brushing your teeth after lunch is strange? You eat, you clean. It avoids caries, bad breath and parsley appearing between your teeth.

Cockroach. Goal in a football championship. Bungee Jump. Horror movies. Burning, childish nightmare, fear, life-threatening situations, live show. These are the reasons why we find it plausible to scream. When someone takes time to choose falafel ingredients, for example, we consider screaming a bit exaggerated.

Caipirinha, Carnival and samba are great, but as incredible as it may sound, in Brazil you can also listen to jazz, dance bossa nova while drinking Merlot and get buzzed with rock bands from the eighties. There are colleges, English schools, philosophy courses, film festivals. After work people usually go home, bad mood exists and and it’s common to waste time in traffic. There is routine, registry office, corruption and violence which completely eliminates our possibility of being tropical kamikazes who have abdicated paradise.

Well, I think that’s it. It was a pleasure to meet you, too and — importantly — kisses and see you around.

About the Author
Nurit Masijah Gil is a Brazilian-Israeli writer with nearly 100 chronicles published in Portuguese in both countries. In 2014, she launched her book titled "Little Ms. Perfect," in which she tells about her tragicomic wife-and-mom life. In 2017, she moved to Israel with her family. In 2019, she changed her busy suburban life as a content writer at a startup company, in Israel's central region, for a peaceful life at her own oasis at the Arava desert -- a 1,000-member ishuv -- where she has crowned her aliyah.
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