Brazilian Challenge Day 41: A Three Shower Day

As many of my fellow Brazil bloggers and readers suggested, a true Brazilian showers at least twice a day.

When I first met my husband he did this, he showered twice a day – once in the morning and once at night. Coming from a midwestern U.S. background, we tended to shower once a day, usually in the morning, so this habit seemed a bit excessive.

But now living in Brazil, in the summer, I understand. My Brazilian brother-in-law explained to me that a variety of different bacteria lives here – and I believe him. And I’ve showered twice a day. But today, on a day that has set some records for heat, I’ll admit that it’s easy to engage in the Brazilian practice of showering multiple times. And today, I’m up to the third count.

These days, Sao Paulo is a sticky, sweaty city and you lose nothing by hanging out in the shower.

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42 Responses to Brazilian Challenge Day 41: A Three Shower Day

  1. Suzann says:

    If they had central air, I bet the showers would go down. I think it might surprise most North Americans that the vast majority of people in SP don’t have some sort of air conditioning in their homes and that public places have fairly anemic AC compared to the frigid cold of AC in the US.

  2. Ray says:

    Suzann,

    In Sao Paulo, people don’t have Air Conditioners simply because they don’t really need it.
    Sao Paulo broke it’s 4 year record high temperature this week when the weather peaked at a mere 93F degrees, or 34C. That is a typical Spring day in the American midwest, this is why they all have A/Cs, they really need it. We have lived in Dallas and Oklahoma, and I will tell you, their heat is no joke, it’s a matter of life and death.
    Heck, even Rhode Island and Massachusetts easily go over 93F in the summer, but we don’t have A/Cs in New England because most of our houses are under the shade of gigantic old trees and we have a cool Ocean breeze.
    Paulistas are super sensitive to heat and start complaining no stop when the temperature goes above 90, which is no news anywhere in the US.
    You think public places in Sao Paulo don’t have frigid A/Cs? Try visiting any of the city’s Malls on a Monday morning! You will have hipotermia before you can say “frio”. They usually have the Malls A/Cs super cold over the weekends when the Malls are packed and their maintanance crews are usually off on Mondays because they work over the weekends. So, Mondays, every Mall in Sao Paulo feels like Siberia, because they are half empty with A/Cs set on Max for big crowds. 😉

    Abracos

    Ray

  3. Ray says:

    Dear B.A.B.,

    I am under a serious impression that your brother in law is pulling your leg with the “misterious bacterias in Brazil story”, this has “Big Foot theory” written all over it.
    Brazilians shower often because they can, water is abundant, available and cheap, it’s nothing but a cultural habit, and the heat is not the only reason for frequent showers, because Brazilians from all over the South of Brazil shower often as well, and they have cold similar to Europe and the USA. It snows and it’s often below zero in the winter. People shower often just the same.
    Europeans have a cultural habit of not showering all the time, water is super expensive and not as available as it is in Brazil. Some places don’t even have showers, only bath tubs, who is going to fill a bath tub 3 times a day…? 😉
    Now seriously, please tell your brother in law there are some Brazilians very curious to find out more about the “misterious bacterias” they have never heard anything about!! Lol 🙂
    I hope he is not a Big Foot believer… 😉

    Abraco

    Ray

    • The story sounded sketchy to me when he first told me. But when I lived in California, you would rarely find a place with central air or heat for reasons similar to here – you just didn’t need it. But you could hit some high days in SoCal too, it just feels different here, or maybe it is just more social acceptable here to do the multiple showers. Sometimes my BIL talks out of his a** 🙂

    • I’m calling BS on that ‘special bacteria’ story. Showering wouldn’t help, anyway! And in California we had an outbreak of that flesh-eating bacteria. GROSS! It was when I worked in the prisons. On April 1. The Guards had to bring the Warden down to convince me the barracks I was teaching in were quarantined. I thought it was an April Fools Day joke.

      A little girl lost both hands and some of both legs in May 2011 from a flesh-eating bacteria in Sacramento. It was sad, but her family had a very strong faith.

      • I don’t know. I think every region has a variety of different bacterias, and perhaps something grows here that, a hundred years ago, required Brazilian to clean themselves more often than other countries. Thus, the habit of multiple showers. Never know.
        Holy hell (sorry) on the CA outbreak. I remember that – I was in CA during the flesh-eating bacteria episodes. Straight from a horror movie. i can’t believe there was a victim of it so recently!

  4. Alexandre P. says:

    OK, Suzann, so you believe you brother-in-law and I can’t do anything about that, BUT… honestly… I just hope his affirmation has a scientific base, because I really doubt he was serious. I’ve never heard such thing before. I hope his kidding you, because I find it to be anything but a ludicrous affirmation. Brazil may be humid, hot and all, but, common… We, Brazilians, take the average 2 baths a day only because it’s a cultural habit, that’s all, there’s no mystery behind it, there’s nothing to be explained about, for God’s sake. Different habits of a foreigner country should be taken in a more simplistic way in order to be fully comprehended, not turning it into a thriller tale. I don’t understand why so much doubts and mysteries surrounding your Brazilian day by day like this one. It’s not like India or China that happen to be REAL different cultures from the America culture. What troubles me even more is that I KNOW you’re an educated and intelligent woman. I also notice that you’re a good person, a wonderful mother and wife who’s just struggling to find your place in a country that you even didn’t choose to live in. Being so, I really am disappointed with your brother-in-law because he IS making fun of you. I have no doubt in my mind about that. Finally, be aware that my reaction here has nothing to do with the fact I’m another “offended” Brazilian – not at all. I’m not offended or mad at you, I’m just troubled by the insensitivity of your brother-in-law telling you such foolishness. But in case I’m proven wrong, I’ll be mostly definitely surprised. Anyhow, I’ll be just one less of the 99% of Brazilians that take multiple showers a day without even giving it a thought why.

    Alexandre P.

    • Thanks for your comment Alexandre! I’ll have to ask my brother-in-law, who is Brazilian by the way, where he got his information! (FYI – my name is not Suzann) I hate to break it to you, but Brazilian culture is very different from U.S. culture. Having very good Indian and Chinese friends, in my opinion, the cultural differences between the three are a close call, if you take the time to notice, which is what I’m trying to do. I’m glad you are not offended, because that is definitely not my intention. For me, this project allows me to appreciate Brazil, Brazilians and Sao Paulo in a way that I did not the first year and a half I was here – by acknowledging the differences and making an effort to learn and experience more, instead of just hanging out with expats all the time and watching U.S. television on my computer! Would love to hear any suggestions you might have in how I can continue to do this!

      • Ray says:

        Dear B.A.B,

        I love your project by the way! A very clever way to get to know Brazil and Sao Paulo like the locals 😉

        Abracos
        Ray

      • Hello,
        I’m from Rio and I couldn’t help to laugh about the bacteria story, sorry. Just for the record, I take only one shower a day, two in the summer, and if it’s too hot. I thought actually this is the normal thing to do. How many times an North American showers per day or week, average? I’m curious.

        But I really understand you. You’re in a strange place, I get this felling about not knowing, and I admire what you’re trying to do.

        • Hi! I would say that in the U.S. it is customary to take one shower a day, sometimes two if, say, you get caught in a dust storm or fall in the mud. Or it is really hot.
          Thank you for your comments.

  5. Anna says:

    i think baths are cultural habit . I always take 2 or 3 baths , it doesn’t matter how cold or hot it is. I am in germany now and its -8 C. My friends think its crazy I am taking 3 showers a day. I used to live in southern brazil and we always took at least 2 showers a day during the winter time. I don’t know how to go to bed at night before showering. For me its the same as brushing my teeth – something that europeans also don’t always get it 🙂

    Brazilian and american culture are more similar than indian and chinese.
    They have the same alphabet, the majority is christian but also you can find a little bit of everything. They are both immigrant countries and relatively new. So they picked up customs ,traditions , food from different countries and made their culture.
    China and India are a different story…

    • Funny! My husband and brother-n-law spend 1/3 of their life in Germany. And they didn’t take the 2-3 baths a day there, because they were kids/teens and their grandparents wouldn’t let them. Why? Because it was cold and they would get sick. Because water was expensive. So these “cultural” behaviors most often have a basis in science. Language and religions are only a part of culture. Culture is about how a society views their surrounding and the world and how then act on those views. Weather, landscape, agriculture, colonization… all contribute to culture and if you lay out these elements, Brazil is much different in terms of cultural than the U.S. and much closer to other countries that are in development. Trust me, there are more cultural differences than you probably are aware of, and this is what make the world such an interesting place (to me).

      • Anna says:

        So these “cultural” behaviors most often have a basis in science… are you talking about the showers or the brazil x india, china ?

        My european friends don’t think its necessary to take many showers a day or in many cases even one shower every 2 or 3 days is enough (or brush their teeth too)… even during summer where most places do not have a/c they still don’t do it very often. My friends have heating so its not that cold anyway and water is not that expensive nowadays to shower. Its just not a habit for them. Its one of the disadvantages of living in europe. They don’t smell as “fresh” as brazilians or americans do. (they smoke a lot much too – another reason they smell bad in my opinion ).

        I think Brazilian culture is more similar to the U.S. than eastern countries are.. But it is still very different.

    • We were told as children that too many baths/showers could cause skin infections, rashes, urinary track infections, and dry skin. In my case, it is true, but only in that cold environment.

      My parents thought a dip in the (very clean) river or community pool (probably not so clean) was equivalent to a shower! lol How horrified was my Brazilian husband when he heard that?!

      BTW_ American blacks have a cleanliness habit similar to Brazilians with the multiple shpwers, cologne and perfume.

      • HA! I’m sure that I spent many a summer day “bathing” in the lake by my parents house. Though funny, some of my other latin american friends have told me stories about how their parents/in-laws let the grandkids in their case substitute showers with a swim in the pools. So, why do Brazilians have this habit but not the Costa Ricans or the people from the DR??

  6. Stephanie says:

    I totally feel you. I was used to a one a day in the states…. Day before yesterday was a 5 shower day. Once before work, one when I came home at lunch, once before I left again, when I got home another, and then when trying to sleep at 11pm. It was that hot. UGH. But thankfully yesterday was just a 3 shower day! woo hoo 🙂

  7. Lenisse says:

    It’s sooo funny… When I get here in US, I NEVER understand that one shower thing, specially just in the morning…. to me, if you want to take a shower just once a day, take it in the evening :P! How cultural diferences are fascinating :). BUT, I just got a BAD eczema on my legs, and the doctor restrict me to take a shower just once a day. Anyway, I guess, the important thing is to keep ourselves clean and fresh, doesn’t matter “when/what time/ how many times” you take a shower :).

    • Cultural differences are seriously fascinating. It is so fun to have these conversations and get the various views – much more important to me than the actual posts are the comments in my education about Brazil and the cultural differences. Thanks for your comment!!
      I also like to go to bed clean 🙂

  8. Nothing like good old humidity. It definitely warrants two showers.

  9. Jenner says:

    I’ve made a brief family research and we take shower just once a day! May be it’s because we are mostly European at home. My girlfriend, on the other hand, is more Brazilian and usually takes two. This many showers a day habit has its roots in our native american heritage. Índios love rivers and water…

  10. Sharon says:

    I’m from Canada. I shower twice a day, too. Even in the winter. I dunno.

  11. Pingback: Brazilian Challenge Day 188: Three Shower Day! | born again brazilian

  12. Carla says:

    Hi! I love the post. I`m brazilian and I take shower one time at night. I sleep better when I take shower. When you clean many times a day, you will take off the bacterias protect your body. The soap, special for adults, are agressives for skin.
    You can see more information about soap in my blog: testandocomacarla.blogspot.com.br
    Thanks

  13. Xavier Soares says:

    As a brazilian, let me explain you guys how it works. We do have a lot of showers a day, but it has nothing to do with bacteria or anything like that. When is not so hot and I don´t leave home, I only get one shower. Whenever I live home, I get a shower to leave and one after. There was a time I had 3 different jobs, so I was forced to have 4 baths a day. Brazilian indigenous used to do that and we learned it form them.

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