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Courtesy, Brazilian Style

The Olympic Games offer us easy access to a worldwide display of athleticism, talent and grit!  The Games also give us a glimpse into the culture of the host country. Below are rules that help define etiquette in Brazil:

Meeting and greeting

Men shake hands. By U.S. standards, the Brazilian handshake is lengthy; eye contact is sustained throughout.

Women kiss each other on cheeks, starting with the left.  A man and woman may shake hands, but the woman extends her hand first.

Brazilians stand close to each other when speaking .Their “comfort zone” is “too close for comfort” for many of us.  (Resist the urge to back away.)  In addition, interrupting another is common and acceptable.


 Parents teach children to clean their plates.  Leaving food in considered rude!

At a restaurant, expect to share your table with another party.

A 10% service charge (tip) is added to the bill. There is no need to add to that. Tips are pooled and distributed among the staff.

Gift Giving

If you visit a Brazilian home it is mandatory to bring a gift or send one later with a thank-you note. Candy (or any food/beverage) is appropriate for an afternoon visit or informal meal. For a formal dinner, step it up—bring a bottle of wine.

Flowers are acceptable for any occasion, with the exception of a formal dinner (go with wine).

When selecting a gift, avoid anything that is purple and black; these are mourning colors.

Late is Great!

A savvy Brazilian who is invited to a small social event to start at 6:00 knows enough to arrive no earlier than 6:30. If the gathering were to be large, he /she would arrive at 7:00. To be “on time” you need to be late!

Competition is essential to the Olympics.  Respect for the traditions of the host country and its citizens are at the essence of the Olympic spirit.