This holiday season will probably be a bit different from past years given the need for social distancing. For many of us, that means we won’t have the same opportunities to connect with our friends and family that we’re used to.
But don’t fret! There are lots of creative ways you can still spend time with your loved ones this holiday season.
Here, we’re compiling even more ideas about how to connect with your friends and family over the holidays, inspired by some classic Brazilian games. Many of these can be adapted to play virtually or for in-person gatherings of any size.
5 Classic Brazilian Games to Play In-Person and Online
Adedonha, or Stop!, has been an extremely popular game in Brazil for generations. The game consists of writing down words that start with a particular letter within a pre-defined category. Categories could be “names”, “colors”, “objects”, “animals”, and so on.
Adedonha is based on the game called “Town, Country, River” in the United States, or “Stadt, Land, Fluss” in Germany. It’s guaranteed fun for both adults and children, and it’s also easily played virtually because it doesn’t require a board or special equipment. It can be played with 2 to 8 players.
How to play:
- Distribute paper and a pen to each player.
- Then choose the categories. The most common categories in Brazil are “names”, “animals”, “fruits”, “colors”, and “locations”, but you can choose any — and as many — as you want. It can be fun to add more elaborate categories, such as “things in the bathroom” or “movie names”.
- Next, pick a random letter.
- As soon as the letter is chosen, all players must fill in the categories with words that begin with the chosen letter. The person who finds a word for all the categories first says “stop!” All the other participants must then stop writing.
- To calculate the score, give five points for a word if more than one person has written it down. Give ten points for a word that only one person has used. Add up all the points for the round.
- Then you can start a new round with a new letter.
- When the participants no longer wish to play, just add up all the points to see who scored the most — that’s your winner.
2. Gato-Mia (“Cat Meows”)
This is another fun game that you can play without any special equipment — all you will need is a blindfold. It’s a good one to play in person with your kids or grandchildren.
How to play:
- Gather the participants in a room and turn off the lights.
- Everyone must hide.
- The person who is “it” needs to be blindfolded so they can’t see the other players (They need this even though you play in the dark).
- The “it” player — the catcher — then starts looking for the other players, who need to try to stay silent. To make it easier, the catcher can tell jokes to try to make the hidden “cats” laugh.
- Every time the catcher finds another player, the catcher says: “cat, meow”. The person who was caught must pretend they are a cat and meow. Then the catcher guesses which player it is. If the catcher gets it right, the person who was caught becomes “it”. If the catcher guesses wrong, the game starts again with the same catcher.
Here is a Brazilian tutorial about how to play Gato Mia (if you don’t speak Portuguese, you can activate the subtitles for the language of your preference).
Buraco, which means literally “hole”, is a very traditional Brazilian game. It is played by people of all ages but is especially popular among older adults. It’s thought that the game was brought to Brazil by Uruguayans, who joined together elements of Rummy, Bridge, and a game called “Com Quién”. Buraco is also called Canastra in Portuguese (or “Canasta” in English).
Buraco is usually played by 4 people, divided into pairs, with the partners positioned facing each other on opposite sides of the table.
Although it is less common, you can also play with six players, divided into two groups of three, or in odd numbers (3 or 7), playing individually. Buraco is played with 2 decks of 52 cards each, plus the wildcards. If you don’t have wild cards, the number 2’s can be substituted as wildcards.
The mime game, widely known in English as “Charades” is very simple to play and is tons of fun. Though mímica is not especially Brazilian, it’s very famous in Brazil and is commonly played anywhere there are children. It’s a great option for a covid holiday party: it stimulates creativity and imagination and is also easy to play virtually.
How to play:
- First, you have to choose your prompts. Have each player brainstorm prompts to mime and write these down on separate cards. Fold all the cards and place them in a hat or little box.
- Then, choose the first “mime”. This person will draw a card and must mime out the prompt that was written on the card. They cannot speak.
- The other players must try to guess what the mime is acting out.
- The first person to guess correctly will be the next one to mime, and so on.
5. Dança das Cadeiras
Dança das Cadeiras, or “chair dance” (we know it as “musical chairs” in English), is a game very commonly found at Brazilian birthday parties. It was at its peak in the 1990s, but it remains popular today.
The game begins by setting up chairs in a circle in a large room. The players then stand in a second circle outside of the chairs. There should always be one chair fewer than the number of players.
A judge plays a popular, upbeat song while the players dance and circulate around the chairs. Suddenly, the judge will turn off the music and everyone must sit down as quickly as they can. The person that cannot find a chair to sit on is eliminated and one more chair is taken from the circle. The game is played until there is only one person who has not been eliminated.
Get creative with Brazilian games this holiday season
We’re all going to celebrate a bit differently this holiday season, but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy ourselves — it just means we need to get a bit creative.
Hopefully, these Brazilian games can inspire you to find fun, imaginative things to do with your family and friends this year. And if you find something that worked really well for your family, share it with us! We’d love to hear what you did.
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