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Patrick McGinnis

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

Posted: 12/24/11 08:00 AM ET

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?

A Giant Santa & His Trumpet Playing Dogs
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Outside the Shopping Iguatemi, Santa plays the sax while three dogs collaborate to play the trumpet. A dead-eyed golden retriever stares on at the right.
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