Celebrating the Festas Juninas in Brazil

The Brazilian Festa Junina dates back to times of the Portuguese colonization, commemorating the four saints, and marking the end of summer yet also the beginning of the harvest. From traditional dances to gorgeous costumes, this is a time of great celebration. While June marks the beginning of our summer here in the States, this marks the beginning of the Brazilian winter. This popular Brazilian June party celebrates the days of the four saints:

• Saint Anthony on June 13
• Saint John on June 24
• Saint Peter on June 29
• Saint Paul on June 29

It can get pretty busy in Brazil during this month, where tourists and residents alike celebrate all month and even into July. Traditional Brazilian food is part of the festivities. Many people dress up to resemble farmers, gather around bonfires and engage in a traditional dance called the quadrilha. This tradition comes from Holland but was later adopted by Brazil. There may even be a fake wedding or two held during this event, where men and women dress up as grooms, priests and brides.

Festas Juninas in Brazil

They’ll also head to quermesses, (similar to bazaars) to play games for small prizes. One game involves getting “arrested” by their friends and having to stay in the “jail” for a set period of time. They also play games of bingo. They eat rice pudding, sweet potatoes and a corn dish, called canjica, and drink beverages consisting of wine, sugar, ginger, and spices – basically a mulled wine. Pamonha, pinhão, pé-de-moleque, and paçoca are other traditional foods consumed.

To accommodate all the people who want to celebrate, many of these gatherings and parties are held in churches, schools, clubs, and museums. Flags are the decoration of choice. The size of each celebration can vary, with June’s festivals usually being the biggest, drawing up to one million people.

In preparation for the harvest, this is the time where people will clear their land, fertilize the grasses and start planting. The cultures of the Afro-Brazilians and European immigrants determined how the celebration would go many years ago, acting as the benchmark for today’s festivities. The celebration got its start in the countryside, because that was where all the religious people lived, plus they really needed the rain in those agricultural areas.

Carnival is certainly the most popular celebration in Brazil; however, the Festa Junina is the second. Looking to head to Brazil this month or next to take part in the Festas Juninas? Better know the language! Brush up on your Brazilian Portuguese with BRIC Language Systems. We show you the right way to learn a language!

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