Monday, September 5, 2011

Expats and Holidays

As an expat my holidays are all messed up. I totally forgot today is Labor Day in the states, not that it really matters down here. Monday is going on as normal. Of course, there are no lack of holidays in Brazil.  My kids are constantly getting days of school for things that I don't even understand.

Take this Wednesday for example. It's Brazilian Independence day. Do they have fireworks and all that jazz, no. There are some parades but it's not really done up like we do ours.

Personally I think it's because of the abundance of holidays. When you get half the year off (slight exaggeration) for national, religious, or city holidays they all just seem to run together. It's basically an excuse to escape the city and drink beer in the middle of the day (not that Cariocas really need an excuse to do either).

Still I feel a bit like I am failing my children when it comes to knowing the holidays of their Mother's homeland. We do nothing on American holidays, they think Valentines day is in June, and Grandpa and Daddy have different Father's days. Talk about confusion.

Then you add in Carnaval and conselho de classe (each quarter/semester class is canceled so teachers can have a prep day) and you realize there are about 3 fully functioning work days in Rio de Janeiro.

Anyway, my kids' understanding of all holidays, minus Christmas, is that they are an excuse to miss school/work. Then again, isn't that the essence of holidays in the first place? A day to relax, enjoy, and be with friends and loved ones.

I do wish we could celebrate 4th of July with style down here though. This year I missed good hot dogs, beers, fireworks, obnoxious American Flag clothing items, and the general old fashioned American bbqs. Don't even get me started on potato salad and big dill pickles...

Those of you living abroad, do you ever miss celebrating the holidays of your native land?  If so, which ones?


  1. As a Brazilian living in the USA I miss Carnaval the most! I also miss the huge chocolate eggs from Easter (US do not really have those). I miss having more religious Holidays. I think you are in the better side of the World when it comes to Holidays Rachel!

    Cheers to the great post always.

  2. I only knew it was Labor Day because all of the Facebook statuses were about a 3-day weekend. (As a teacher, it seems most of my friends are teachers).
    What's cool is that I don't have to work on Wednesday. I kind of like the holiday in the middle of the week (the US would never do that). I also like that since I work at a religious school we have those holidays off, too. Can't wait 'til the second semester when we have more days off :). Though I'll miss a week off for Thanksgiving :(.

  3. I don't live abroad but I think if I did, I would most definitely miss 4th of July and Thanksgiving even though I really can't stand to be around my own family..LOL Our is more like a dysfunctional Thanksgiving.

    New Year's is my favorite holiday though and I could probably celebrate that just fine anywhere. I still want to go to NY one year and celebrate in Times Square like a crazy person. :D

  4. Rachel,

    We really miss celebrating the New Years, in Brazil it's a HUGE party, everywhere, here most people go to bed at 8pm on the 31st. We stay up watching Kathy Griffin and Anderson Cooper on Times Square and then go to bed :(
    Easter also is a big disapointment around here, nothing really happens, in Brazil all the stores are decorated, huge Chocolate Easter Eggs everywhere, people celebrate Easter in a big way in Brazil, but that is probably because we have stronger Catholic traditions, that would be my wild guess.
    I hate Carnaval with the passion, so I am really relieved to be here when the drunken/piss fest goes on... ;)
    And Halloween is our all time favorite American Celebration/Excuse for party. :)


  5. Halloween, 4th of July, Thanksgiving are my favorite holidays. I know we don't technically get the day off for Halloween, but nonetheless, I like getting dressed up and checking out the different parties. I am sad I won't be in the States for that:( I am going back, though for Thanksgiving, also my birthday falls during that time.

  6. I do love Easter here! I miss my basket and some candies, not that I get that anymore anyway, but the big eggs down here do rock!

    Btw, I did a Thanksgiving some years ago. It was a huge hit. TOtally doable!

    And I agree, I make out like a holiday bandit down here! And NYs here is far better! Much much much cooler!

  7. I really wish I could spend New Year's Eve here in Brazil. We've already been invited to several parties but I'll be in Houston. I'm gonna have to find someone's party to crash or it will be a lonely one.

  8. I love brazilian new years eve!! its a big family / friends / social party and brazilian easter w those big chocolate eggs!

  9. I miss chick dressing up as slutty nurse day (Halloween). I know that some will say that Carnival should quench this but it just isn't the same, not to mention the crap carnival music you have to withstand ( everytime I hear "Mamae eu Quero" eu quero torture myself with a broom stick.
    Perhaps an addend is necessary here: I miss chick dressing up as slutty nurse dancing to something like this day.

    Oh, such good times (sniff).

  10. This was the first year I really missed 4th of July - mainly because the entire rest of my family (my mom, my sibs and all their kids) were all together all day, cooking out, boating and watching fireworks over the river - and all I could do was read about it on facebook. :(

  11. I am soooo lucky. I get to NOT celebrate Valentine's in both cultures, as my husband hates it. <3

    Ok, I'm kind of with him on that. Valentine's Day is one of the most un-romantic holidays ever, as it's became fake and cheesy. But the fact that I can now celebrate it twice and ended up celebrating it less than when I lived in Brazil leaves me feeling rather short changed.

    I really miss christmas and new year's because, oddly enough, I prefer the way they're celebrated in my homeland. The food is better, the atmosphere is more festive (even without snow, or maybe exactly because there's no snow) and people seem to be genuinely happy - whereas in the UK it's all about shopping for gifts no one really cares about and putting up a feast/decor better than anyone else in your neighbourhood. Everytime I read the expression "how to MAKE the PERFECT christmas" on a glossy women's mag I feel like getting on the first plane back home, where christmas doesn't really need to me neither made or perfect.

    Oh, I miss carnival, too. I don't really like samba and I never even watch the parade on TV, but I did LOVE that LONG HOLIDAY. :)

  12. On the other hand, I love halloween. English people don't really celebrate it like in the US, unfortunately. :( And I would love to have Thanksgiving. Any excuse to get together inside when the weather is cold and consume large amounts of delicious food and wine is good in my books. ♥

  13. I often wonder about this: If you are an American living abroad and raising children, where do your children consider their homeland? I would assume they consider themselves Brazilian, right?

    I asked a friend of mine who lives in Illinois with me who is from Chile. She insists that her children are Chilean, no matter where they were born (USA). I don't argue because I don't want to upset her, but I know that most other kids I know consider the place that they grow up to be their homeland.

    How do you feel about that? Are you planning on being a permanent resident of Brazil?

  14. I do enjoy the family-ness of Brazilian Christmases. However, I LOVE being home for Christmas! My family doesn't do the "perfect" Christmas celebration. It is just a big dinner and a lot of hanging out. It is kind of like here except we don't get nearly as excited as Brazilians. You guys get so excited! lol

  15. Tracey, my oldest says he is Brazilian. He gets that he is half American but Brazil is his home. For me it is about sharing with him things from my childhood that I loved. I don't care if they call themselves Brazilian or American.

    I am a resident and I don't see us leaving anytime soon. I think my boys will speak in English at home and be a bit more American while with me. Of course when they go out with their Brazilian friends they will be total Brazilian men! lol