Sunday, December 30, 2007

Color Coding My New Year's Eve

I live in a city that takes New Year's Eve extremely seriously! By now, store windows are chockful with everything from evening dresses to shorts to shoes and accessories in white, silver, and gold. Florists are stocking up on white, yellow, and red flowers for Iemanjá. Street vendors are popping up here and there offering all manners of souvenir T-shirts (in white, silver, and gold, again) and noisemakers. My wine seller greeted me with a glass of champagne as I walked by his shop this afternoon. There are tons of superstitions or simpatias, as they're called in Brazil. Here is a short list of things to do when the spectacular fireworks show on Copacabana Beach rings in the New Year (you can pick and choose, of course!): eat a pomegranate (for money); eat a spoonful of lentils, ditto; eat seven grapes (for prosperity); jump seven waves in a row (for good luck); throw white flowers into the sea (choose your wish or prayer). Also, for the ladies: wear brand new panties in white, yellow, or red. Are you wondering why? O Globo, Rio's major daily paper, recently published a list of colors and their meanings. Here is a summary (you still have time to go shopping tomorrow morning!):

Blue - Power, action, force.
Pink - Love, understanding, conciliation, attraction.
Gold - Wisdom and prosperity.
Yellow - Same as gold; it also stimulates creativity.
White - Harmony, peace, stability.
Red - Passionate love, desire.
Green - Vitality, positive energy. Green also brings health.

They didn't mention silver, by the way, but my friends tell me it's supposed to mean the same as gold, at least as far as prosperity goes.

This year, I'm avoiding the beach (and a couple of million people) and spending a much quieter New Year's Eve with a friend watching the fireworks by the splendid floating Christmas tree near where we live. Ah, before I forget: I'll be in white, gold, and blue (2008, here I come!). Happy New Year, everybody!

Monday, December 24, 2007

And a Merry Christmas to All!

What does one wish the world on a holiday such as this? I pondered this question for a while and decided we could start with a healthy dose of solidarity and common sense. That should take us all a long way!

What does one give a person who has it all (meaning I, me, myself, who need very little these days!)? This one was easy! I got on a taxi and braved a spectacular traffic jam in Copacabana to enjoy a show by singer Marcos Sacramento at the Hotel Sofitel. A savvy, gifted, elegant performer, Marcos embodies the undying spirit, wit, and charm of Brazilian music. Equally irresistible whether performing a swinging samba or a romantic, plangent serenata, this gorgeous guy in dreadlocks (I couldn't resist this one!) is a superlative interpreter, who makes every song his own. What a Christmas treat!

On this happy note, quite literally, I leave my best wishes for a very joyous and prosperous 2008!

PS - You can see Marcos on YouTube, of course.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Squeeze Me!

If you've seen "Wayne's World," you know what this title means. Otherwise, go google it! I'm writing about something that I find incomprehensible in Brazil, namely, the widespread use of (bad) English. Reading the paper this morning, I came across (for the nth time!) the word botton. No, it's not bottom misspelled. It's a Brazilian version of button, you know, the little round thing we wear to advertise our candidate or opinion or whatever. The question that comes to mind is, if you're going to use a foreign word, why not spell it correctly? Beats me. Just like the T-shirts and tops. I went shopping the other day for one to take with me to the U.S. as a Christmas present. I was looking for something very carioca, obviously, with sayings in Portuguese, but was only able to find stuff displaying very incorrect English phrases. Why is that?

The article I mentioned was titled "Cool," just like that, in English. Now, since this word has a perfectly serviceable equivalent in Portuguese, I assumed that they were trying to be, well, cool, by using American slang. I thought: How totally uncool to make a mistake like that. But I suspect it's one that's so entrenched in the urban culture here that it's become impossible to eradicate.