12/24/2011 09:24 am ET | Updated Feb 23, 2012

Sao Paulo's Over The Top Christmas Decorations (PHOTOS)

Just after Thanksgiving, I flew to Sao Paulo, for a week of meetings in South America's largest city. Unfortunately, as soon as I arrived, I discovered that my luggage had been misplaced during a layover in Detroit. While I was assured each day that my luggage would be coming the following day, the bags arrived six days into my trip, just in time for me to catch a flight back to New York.

As a result of this mishap, I found myself traveling a circuit around Sao Paulo's shopping malls in order to buy clothing and other necessities. As I circulated around central Sao Paulo, I discovered that Brazilians are mad for Christmas. Each and every shopping mall I visited had erected at least one, if not several, elaborate Christmas displays. That fact, by itself, is hardly surprising. What's surprising is that Brazilians embrace a vision of Christmas that is very... Let's say wintry.

Brazil is a tropical country and Christmas in Sao Paulo is a sweaty occasion, but visitors to a shopping mall will encounter plenty of fake snow, fur-clad Santas and Frosty the Snowman plush toys. I also was impressed to see large buildings featuring light displays that simulated snowfall or lights hanging in the shape of snowflakes. All in all, I found this mash-up of tropical and polar a little disorienting. But if Santa and Frosty can make it in Sao Paulo, who am I to complain?

Christmas in Sao Paulo