A custom that has fascinated me since arriving in Brazil is the Catholic crossing. Brazil is a predominantly Catholic country. When the bus passes a church, any church, a number of passengers will stop whatever they're doing and cross themselves, then kiss the fingers that made the cross, as though kissing a rosary. Apparently, it is to call down God's blessing and protection on their journey. Many do this when starting or ending a trip.
Just in case you're wondering what gesture I'm talking about.
It's something I have been seeing less and less of though. I don't know if it's because the people are becoming less devout or if it has something to do with the rising popularity of the evangelical churches - probably a combination of the two. It might also be because seeing it is no longer a novelty for me and it's become part of the blur of daily living.
As I left the metro line this morning, a pair of love-birds were saying their goodbyes before parting ways. I watched as each one reached across did the ritual on the other - She gently touched his forehead, chest, left shoulder, right shoulder, then offered her finger tips for kissing. He duplicated the actions on her. The whole ritual was solemn and reverent, each one gazing intently into the eyes of the other, oblivious to the bustle and noise of the early morning metro station.
Watching this couple made me appreciate the value of little (and big) rituals. Rituals of greeting - the air kisses, the simple handshake, the elaborate handshakes I remember from home among the 'bros', a hug, a ruffle of the hair... do we part with fervent wishes for the journey of those we love? Do we show it?