What a special time of year - and how fun it is to experience it in a new way!
Our "neighbor" Christmas party was held last night. This included the four sets of temple missionaries, the temple presidency, and temple recorder - with some family members who live nearby.
Mormons do it a bit differently than the rest of Brazil but, basically, this is how it works:
We gathered at 8:00 pm to meet and greet each other. When everyone arrived we enjoyed a wonderful Christmas program put on by the President's family.
Dinner began around 10:00. This is a lot like our Thanksgiving - a real feast! Favorite Christmas foods include pork, ham, and roasted Chester, (Think of a super-sized chicken. Most ovens in Brazil are too small to roast a turkey so they developed a big chicken-like poultry that will feed more than just a regular chicken would. BTY, Chesters are very tender and moist and have a lot of white meat on them - hence the name chester.)
Also served, cold potato salad, fresh and dried fruits, cooked vegetables that have then been refrigerated, tomatoes and cucumbers. Everything is served with rice cooked with raisins and a good spoonful of "Farofa" which is seasoned manioc flour.
The most popular Christmas dessert seems to be chocolate cake with coconut filling and ice cream.
And always, there is the ever popular Panettone which is a sweet bread filled with dried fruits or chocolate. Since Kay and I were new to this, we were assigned this item. I guess they figured we could buy them and cut them up without much damage!
Then, at midnight, the tradition is that everyone makes a toast to a happy Christmas and exchange presents. You can hear fireworks going off all over the city. By that time I was ready for bed!
In Brazil, Santa Claus is called Papai Noel. He looks a lot like our Santa but his outfit is of a lighter weight because of the summer season. Ha. The kids leave out their shoes so that Papai Noel will fill them with gifts and sweets. It is also a tradition to hide wrapped presents around the house for the children to hunt for and open. They actually only get a couple of things for Christmas.
The most popular Christmas song in Brazil? "Silent Night"
Today, after Church, we enjoyed Christmas Day dinner with the Browns.
P.S. Yesterday we actually had our first company. Don's tutor from the MTC (Arthur Silva) with his wife and aunt came by.
Once again, Feliz Natal, and may all your Christmases be white. (Ours was 88 degrees with a 70% chance of showers. Welcome to Curitiba!)