In the country of eternal parties, the “winter” continues to be full of events that traditionally celebrate the corn harvest in the Northeast of Brazil. The whole month of June is filled with block parties, street parties, parties at churches, and even parties at schools in honor of the harvest, and also three integral Catholic saints: Anthony (Antônio) , John (João), and Peter (Pedro). Since the beginning of the month, I have overheard people talking about plans for going to these parties, of which eating, drinking, and dancing are the main goals. As a foreigner, I realize that this is a very important time in Brazil—it is a significant part of their culture—and yet it is widely unknown by outsiders.
Anyway, as I have recently been spending more time at the park near my house, I became aware of advertising for a “festa junina” nearby. As I continued going to run at the park, I noticed that decorations were slowly being put up and that the party seemed that it would be a legitimately good time—or at least an opportunity to go and experience this very traditional party for myself.
Luckily, I had two interested colleagues willing to join me, and so we all went to the party on Saturday night. Prior to going, as I am accustomed, I researched what kind of dress might be appropriate for this type of gathering. As my favored way of learning is through asking questions, I decided to allow my students the opportunity to describe in their own words what festa junina is, what to wear, what to eat, what to expect, how to dance, etc.
So, based on their advice and knowledge, I learned that it is common for people to wear boots, overalls, straw hats, and pigtails.
In fact, it does get chilly these days at night in the “cerrado,” so wearing a checkered shirt, overalls, and a jacket would definitely not be too many clothes!
Upon arrival, I noticed that the party was decorated with cute, colorful flags and lanterns, and it was much more crowded than I expected—people from all walks of life were there to celebrate the Brazilian “country” culture together. Along one side of the venue were food stands selling many types of traditional Brazilian “Northeast country” dishes.
Of these, I tried three that I thought seemed most traditional: carne de sol, a sun-dried salty beef, canjica, a type of pudding made with corn and topped with cinnamon, and the hot spiced drink made with cachaça or red wine called quentão. Along the other side, the band played spirited music, making the atmosphere even more exciting. The traditional band playing at the venue sang songs in the style of forró, with people congregated around the dance floor, timidly waiting for a stranger to possibly ask them to dance.
. The upbeat country-style music was great for people watching, as I observed some folks who knew just how to twist and turn their partner to the music. As for me, I tried to dance, but to my detriment, I had eaten a lot of heavy food that made me quite sluggish at picking up the rhythm. It was all in good fun, though, and I am glad to have had the chance to see how Brazilians celebrate this time-honored festival!