View Larger Map
Snapshot of Brazil – The official language of Brazil is Portuguese, making it distinct from the rest of South America. The Brazilian people are mostly descended from a mix of European, African, and indigenous ancestry, though this varies from region to region. The Roman Catholic Church is Brazil’s dominant religion, particularly in areas such as Teresina, Florianópolis, and Fortaleza. However, the Roman Catholic church has been decreasing in popularity in recent years as various Protestant and Evangelical churches have been growing rapidly. Other religious traditions are also practiced in various parts of the country, such as traditional indigenous beliefs in the north of the country, or Afro-Brazilian religions such as Candomblé and Umbanda that are concentrated in Salvador, Recife, and Rio de Janeiro. There has been some conflict between these different religious groups. While Brazil’s culture as a whole is influenced by Portuguese, African, indigenous, and Roman Catholic traditions, there is great variation from region to region. The south of the country is more strongly influenced by German and Italian culture. Brazil has a strong history in literature, architecture, and film. Brazil is also home to many unique musical styles, such as samba, pagode, and funk (especially popular in Rio de Janeiro and Bahia), forró and frevo (popular in the northeast), and sertanejo (popular in Mato Grosso and Paraná). The yearly festival Carnaval (held each year forty-six days before Easter) is a major event, celebrated by parades, dancing, and music contests. The holiday is especially popular in Rio de Janeiro and Bahia, to the point that missionary work is sometimes restricted during the week of Carnaval. Television is especially popular in modern Brazilian culture, especially novelas (Brazilian soap operas). Soccer is by far the most popular sport in Brazil, though volleyball, basketball, and several forms of martial arts (such as Capoeira and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu) are also popular. Food in Brazil also varies from region to region, but there are some similarities throughout the country. Lunch is generally the main meal of the day, and rice and beans are eaten at almost every meal. The meals usually involve some type of meat as well as a small salad. Popular dishes include feijoada (a thick stew typically made with black beans and pork), pasta, and potatoes. Southern Brazil is famous for its churrascos (Brazilian-style grilled meat) and chimmarrão (a hot drink made using herba mate). Salgados (fried snacks similar to Spanish tapas) and the pastel (pastry envelopes filled with meat or cheese) are popular snack items. Pizza buffets are also popular, with many different types of pizza available, though Brazilian pizza generally does not have sauce. Rather, people add either ketchup or mustard to their pizza. Other restaurants sell meals buffet-style where the consumer pays for food by weight (per kilo). Many types of tropical fruit are also available in Brazil, and drinks made from fruit such as açai and guaraná are quite popular.
There are 7 stakes and districts located in the Brazil Natal Mission. The Church is most strongly established in the cities of Natal and Mossoró. Natal is also home to a CES Institute. The growth of the Church in the area, combined with the recent influx of missionaries, led to the creation of the mission in 2013. The area is serviced by the Recife Brazil temple, which is located outside of mission boundaries.
As in other parts of Brazil, rice and beans are eaten with almost every main meal. Due to its coastal location, fish and seafood dishes (especially shrimp) are quite popular in Natal. A popular seafood dish is “ginga com tapioca” – a fried fish served with tapioca. Sun-dried meat (called “carne-de-sol”) is also common in desert regions. Couscous is another typical dish in the region, and is either served in a salty form with vegetables, eggs, and dried meat, or in a sweetened form with coconut milk. Cocada sweets (made from coconut and often served with sweetened condensed milk) are popular desserts and street food items.
Missionaries serving in Brazil typically rely on walking or using public transportation to get around. Natal’s public transportation system includes buses, vans, and micro-buses, with more extensive routes covering the tourist areas. The Newton Navarro bridge connects the northern and southern parts of the city and has become a tourist attraction due to its large size.
Natal was ranked the safest state capital in Brazil by the Institute of Applied Economic Research of Brazil! Missionaries should still remember to be smart and avoid shadier areas.
The Festa Junina (celebrated on the 24th of June) is one of the most popular festivals in the region. The celebration generally runs from the 12th until the 29th of the month, featuring bonfires, music, dancing, and fireworks.
Natal means Christmas, and as such, there are several events held around Christmastime in the city. Concerts and plays are popular events, and much of the city is festively decorated. The city also celebrates “Carnatal,” an event similar to Carnaval but held in either November or December.
“Potiguar, norte-rio-grandense” – terms for someone from Rio Grande do Norte
“Natalense” – someone from the city Natal
Natal is most famous for its beaches and sand dunes, but there are plenty of other sites as well! Natal is home to the largest cashew tree in the world (really), an aquarium, a historic center located in some of the city’s older neighborhoods, and the Forte dos Reis Magos (a Portuguese fort that was built in 1598).
Av Interventor Mario Camara, 2066
59062-600 Natal – RN
The work is going so well in Brazil that the Church recently created the Brazil Natal mission! Check back in a year to hear what the first missionaries in the Brazil Natal mission have to say!