Brazil religion and practices are extremely diverse and span several different belief systems and religious traditions. Brazilians enjoy complete freedom to practice their personally held religious beliefs, so the country has every religion from Catholicism to Candomble.
The Brazilian Constitution of 1889 declared that there was no official religion in Brazil, so everyone was free to believe as they liked.
It's a well-known fact that Catholicism is the most widely practiced religion in Brazil, but there are several others too, lending the country to an interesting mix of customs, festivals and traditions.
The Catholic faith was first brought to Brazil by Iberian missionaries who sought to convert the African slaves and Amerindians living during the 15th century. Fast forward to current day, and roughly 3/4 of Brazil's population is staunchly Catholic. Even though the government tries to separate itself from state, many times political decisions are made in light of whether or not the end result will offend the Catholic church, so that alone shows how prevalent Catholicism is in Brazil.
It is widely accepted for Brazilians to be baptized as infants in the Catholic church and also be married in the Catholic church. There are many professed Catholics however who rarely attend mass or practice in any other way other than attending on Easter and Christmas.
Catholics are known for praying to idols or figures such as the Virgin Mary, but in Brazil they also pray to people of the faith who have passed away. Some figures to whom the Brazilian Catholics pray is Nossa Senhora Aparecida and a deceased priest by the name of Father Cicero.
Festivals are celebrated throughout Brazil by Catholics, including Cirio De Nazare, Festa do Divino, Festa do Divino Espiríto Santo, and Cirio in the city of Belem.
Semana Santa, or Holy Week in Brazil is a special time of year for celebrating the risen Christ. Plays and special services are held in honor of this blessed time of year including Washing of the Feet, Good Friday, Paixão de Cristo do Recife, the Passion Play in Nova Jerusalem, Paschal Vigil, and Procissao do Fogareu.
Non-practicing Catholic families may head out for a holiday to the beach or to other parts of the country to visit friends and family members since the children are typically out of school during Holy Week.
During the years of slavery in Brazil, Candomble was introduced by Nigerian and Benin slaves coming into the country. Many times, you will see this religion and the Catholic religion co-exist in an odd manner. This is due to the fact that years ago slave owners were almost always Catholic. They wanted their slaves to convert, but of course the slaves wanted to keep their own religion.
To appease their owners and keep from getting in trouble, they likened their religious practices to Catholic ones and identified their gods and idols with personalities of the Catholic faith. Their goddess of the sea, Iemanja, was like the Catholic's Virgin Mary and their god named Oxala was like Jesus Christ.
Candomble and Catholicism are still intertwined to this very day in Brazil religion.
The Protestant faith is alive and well in Brazil also, but in much smaller numbers. Only about 15% of Brazilians claim to follow a Protestant faith of some kind, including Evangelicals, Lutherans, Assemblies of God, Christian Congregation, Baptists, Fundamentalists, and a church called the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God.
How do the Protestants demonstrate or live out their faith? They encourage their members to participate and get involved in the services. The services consist of prayer, chanting, and singing songs. Some of the stricter Protestants show their faith outwardly by dressing a certain way and completely abstaining from gambling, drinking spirits, and smoking altogether.
People who follow this Brazil religion believe that there are indeed spirits, dead beings, who exist among the living. They also believe in talking to the dead and in reincarnation after they've died. This religion was brought to Brazil by a man by the name of Allan Kardec, thus the name Kardecian.
Worship locations aren't referred to as churches or chapels, but they instead refer to meeting places as associations, centers, or societies.
How do they practice their religion? They are active in helping out with charitable organizations, healings, and actively studying the writings of Allen Kardec, which includes the doctrine believed by the Kardecian Spiritists.
We mentioned before that there is great diversity when it comes to Brazil religion. The religions or belief systems found in Brazil other than the ones above include:
American children covet a chocolate Easter bunny in their basket each year. The equivalent to the bunny in Brazil is the chocolate egg. Imagine all colors of eggs, types of chocolate eggs - some with fillings, some solid, and some hollow. These are what the Brazilian children look forward to seeing in their baskets.
During the Holy Week before Easter, several Brazilian cities will celebrate Corpus Christi by artistically creating mosaics or carpets on the streets using mediums like flour, flower petals, shavings of wood, and coffee grounds. The results are stunning and a memorable way to celebrate this holy time of the year.
Every part of the country has been uniquely shaped by the religion practiced there. Celebrations, festivals, traditions, and customs are all practiced due to some religious or spiritual beginnings and purposes.
The music, dancing, chanting, singing, or other activities all stem from one faith or another and make the people who they are.
The entire culture of the Brazilian people is intertwined with religion or faith in some way. No wonder they're such an amazing, diverse, and wonderful people!