By: A. Sofia Thiollier
Despite being Brazilian, my family is from all over the place. I have three passports, my immediate family is spread across three different continents, and my blood runs from more countries than I know. Down the family line, only one ancestor of mine actually married a partially indigenous person in Brazil, contributing the slightest bit – less than 1% - to my extensive, chaotic family background. Although this seems confusing, it is more common than one might think. Most Brazilians I know are children or descendants of immigrants, each from a different part of the world, having introduced hundreds of different cultures, languages, ideas, and contributions to the country we all call home.
As of 2022, 0.83% of the country's population is indigenous. Statistically, that means that more than 99% is made up of a variety of different cultures which together make up our own. Some of the biggest influences on our country are African, Portuguese, Spanish, Italian and Japanese. While you may never have thought or imagined it, some of Brazil's traditional aspects are actually not originally “ours”.
The biggest influence on our culture is African, and many Brazilian staples originate from that extensive culture. Many dances, music genres, and instruments are a result of this influence. Some examples are capoeira, tambourine, axe, among numerous others. Traditional music from African cultures is also mixed with other influences to create uniquely Brazilian music. Samba is a mixture of an African style called Lundu and some Portuguese rhythms.
Portugal's influence on our culture is a given. Some aspects may seem obvious, such as our language and main religion, both evident results of our colonization. However, some contributions may be unfamiliar to you. For example, Carnival and Festa Junina were both introduced to us by the Portuguese, along with the Italians, who have their own carnivals to this day. In addition to this, common Brazilian folklore characters such as Cuca, O Lobisomem, and “Bicho Papão” are in fact originally Portuguese.
These countries and others continued to be sources of immigrants for many years, so much so that we see large and small aspects of each culture blended into ours to create the rich and beautiful customs that make the fabric of our society and touch us to this day. This is a very valuable aspect of our country and is one of the things that make Brazil stand out: its ability to take the best from each other and incorporate it into our own unique Brazilian culture for all to enjoy and appreciate.