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Why Do Brazilians Clap Hands on the Beach? Mystery Solved!

A lot of things happen at the beach in Brazil. People eat and drink—not just snacks but an entire fish or a kilo of shrimp, and not just water but coconut water or an entire cooler of beer. People shop as well, buying a new swimsuit or canga from a vendor. Loudspeakers play the latest hits when it’s not live from a bar or a group of friends who came with drums and energy.

From dawn to dusk, beaches are very, very lively places in Brazil.

And once in a while, the entire beach starts clapping. I recorded this video on Prainha, in Arraial do Cabo (sorry for the quality, I’m into photos, not videos!).

This one threw me off for a little while and it stayed on my list of Brazilian mysteries until I simply asked for an explanation—crazy what you can do when you can actually speak some Portuguese.

The hand-clapping technique is used to help a lost kid find their parents.

It’s simple yet effective. When a kid gets lost, bystanders clap around him. Something, a small kid is lifted on someone’s shoulders to help parents locate their child.

It works amazingly well.

This simple collective effort is one of the reasons why I love Brazil and why I feel comfortable here—there’s a strong sense of community and people care about each other.

A “community” can be a building, a section of the beach, a bus, a bloco, any place or any moment where a group breathes the same air and is here for the same reason. Anyone can join this “community”, I’m invariably welcome. And in this “community,” people watch out for each other’s. Food is shared, an eye is kept on belonging, tips are offered, and more. Brazilians are generally sociable and they make sure everybody around them has a great time.

And for that, I thank them.

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French woman in English Canada.

Exploring the world with my camera since 1999, translating sentences for a living, writing stories that may or may not get attention.

Firm believer that nobody is normal... and it’s better this way.

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