Christmas will be a bit different this year, here in the tropics. People say it’s not that different from Christmas in San Diego, but they are wrong. It gets chilly, even cold, in San Diego in December. Here, we’re in the 90s, with rain and high humidity. It will be a tropical Christmas!

But, that’s okay with us. We’ve adjusted accordingly.

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And it’s not like the Brazilians don’t “do” a European Christmas. Here, Santa still wears the traditional red-and-white velvet costume, complete with long white hair and long white beard, surmounted by a velvet Santa cap. (Poor Santa is also always beet-red, and not from simple happiness. He’s also typically a drink away from heat exhaustion.) Why they haven’t modified Santa’s dress is a mystery to me. I think it would be appropriate to have Santa in Bermuda shorts and a Hawaiian-style shirt, with a red panama hat, don’t you? (Though, I would resist Santa in a thong, a mural of which is rumored to exist downtown…but which I have not yet seen with my own eyes. Small blessings?)

Avendida Paulista (one of the main tourist attractions in the city) has been decorated wtih gusto. It’s almost like walking down Main Street Disneyland, as crowds stream down the sidewalks, American Christmas carols are pumped through the public sound system, and vendors sell popcorn, corn on the cob, and other tropical delicacies to the merrymakers.

Street vendors.
Street vendors.

And the lake at Iberapuera Park has been bedecked with lights, and the fountains dance to Christmas carols, a la the Bellagio in Las Vegas.

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Everywhere, lights adorn buildings, condominiums, and individual homes. One of our favorite decorations are the Santas hanging from trees…looking as though they crash landed and are holding on for dear life. Another favorite are the Santas scaling the outside of apartment buildings. Cat-burglar Santa!

I am pleasantly surprised by the holiday cheer here in Sao Paulo. At night, the city sparkles with the lights of hope and happiness. ‘Tis the season!

Merry Christmas, Feliz Natal, Everyone.