Eagle County student finds hopping holidays | VailDaily.com

Eagle County student finds hopping holidays

Shannon O'Rourke
Vail, CO Colorado
Special to the DailyShannon O'Rourke, right, an exchange student from Eagle County, celebrating the holidays with a friend in Brazil.

Spending the holidays here in Brazil was a very unique, different, and most of all an unforgettable experience.

At the end of November, I had the opportunity to share my own culture with my Brazilian friends and family by cooking Thanksgiving dinner with a fellow American friend. Cooking a full meal with directions in Portuguese, a strange measuring system, and different supplies was not exactly the easiest feat, but it was really cool to share an important tradition of my own when these people are sharing so much with me.

Everyone who ate the dinner seem to really enjoy the turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce and all the other dishes, and if they didn’t, they did a really good job of acting.

Experiencing Brazilian Natal (Christmas) has been one of my favorite times so far this year. It was quite different than my usual White Christmas at home, starting off with the fact that it was 90 degrees and sunny.

In Brazil, it is traditional to celebrate on the evening of the 24th instead of on the 25th. On Christmas Eve, I went with my host parents, sister, and a slew of uncles, aunts, cousins, and grandparents to a really nice Catholic Mass.

After, we came home and had a party (not unusual) where we opened parents, listened to music, danced samba, and enjoyed the night. At midnight, there were fireworks, and then my family popped open a bottle of champagne and made a toast.

Only after midnight could we eat the big dinner that was prepared (another tradition). I was very lucky to have such a wonderful host family over the holidays, because it helped me to enjoy where I was and not be thinking about what I was missing back home. It was wonderful to feel so welcomed and integrated into a foreign family.

New Year’s in Brazil is much more family-oriented than in the United States. It is very important to pass midnight with your immediate family so you can be the first one to give each other a beijo (kiss), abraco (hug), and a parabens (congrats).

But of course, New Years Eve never ends at midnight. After celebrating with family, most people go to a party where they ring in the New Years until early hours of the morning. I had the opportunity to go to an amazing party with my friends to a beautiful night club that had a dance lounge, lake and an outdoor area.

It was a great party and it lasted until about 9 a.m. ” when they started serving breakfast.

Christmas and New Year’s are important to Brazilians, but the biggest holiday in a Brazilian’s heart is, of course, Carnival. Brazilians spend all year planning and looking forward to these four days of parades, partying, and enjoying their last time of sin before Lent.

When I was in Rio de Janeiro before Carnival, I saw some of the incredible floats and costumes that are used. I was awed by how much work, passion and time that these people put into this holiday.

I spent the first few nights of carnival in my city, which has a more traditional Carnival with samba music and dancing ” which I have attempted but not have definitely not mastered. I spent the last night in a nearby city that was tending a micareta ” more or less a street party ” which is the younger crowd’s preferred way to pass Carnival.

Spending these holidays in Brazil was an unforgettable experience that helped me get to know this country that much better. I would now like to see how people all over the world spend their special occasions.

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