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Olá, gente! (Hello, everybody!) Como está indo o mês de vocês? How is your month going?
For Brazilians, June means decorations, costumes, great food and drinks, because it’s the month of Festas Juninas!
Festa junina is the segunda (second) most popular and traditional festa (party) in Brazil, losing only to the notorious Carnaval. The name “junina” alludes to the mês (month) of June. The festivities are associated with Catholic Saints: Saint John, Saint Anthony and Saint Peter. Celebrations date back to the 17th century, but its origins can be traced to pagan parties that were a tribute to prosperity, which were then apropriated by Christian commemorations in Europe to honor Saint John. Since nosso país (our country) was colonized by Portugal, this tradition was carried over to our lands, adapted to our customs, gaining individual characteristics based on our own folk culture over time.
Aprenda mais (learn more) about some Festa Junina customs and traditions:
Festas Juninas are very lively and coloridas (colorful), so the location is usually decorated with multicolored bandeirinhas (tiny flags) arranged in several rows of garlands. There can also be a bonfire, since the clima frio (cold weather) – it is fall in Brazil – calls for a cozy fire where people can gather around while sipping some quentão (a hot drink consisting of cachaça with spices). The bonfire supposedly means a protection against evil spirits.
People wear costumes that try to simulate country folk. Women wear extravagant cotton gowns and puffed up skirts with flowered patterns, adorned with many frills and ribbons. Men wear checked flannel shirts and jeans. Acessories include straw hats, braids, fake mustaches and heavy makeup.
Quadrilha is a dance inspired by aritocratic French balls. Couples dance to the sound of typical folk músicas (songs) (composed with characteristic instruments like the viola and the accordion), normally accompanied by a narration of someone giving instructions.
There are also many fun brincadeiras (games), like pescaria (fishing), where you’re supposed to fish little cardboard peixes (fishes) out of a sandbox in exchange for a prize. Or pau-de-sebo, where participants have to climb a greased pole on top of which there is cash.
Since its pagan origins, this party was all about celebrating the success of crops. So many dishes served in a Festa Junina are corn and peanut-based. The list of sweet and savory options is endless: typical food and treats include popcorn, corn on a cob, soup, rice pudding, peanut brittle, corn meal cake, hominy, caramel apples, mulled wine and muito mais (many more)!
If you’re in Brazil, it should be no trouble for you to encontrar (find) a festa junina to attend! They’re celebrated all month long and take place nationwide. Divirta-se! Have fun!