Festa Junina in Brazil

Hello folks! Ready to learn Portuguese? Today we’ll talk about one of the most important festivals in Brazilian culture: The June Festival in Brazil.

Festa Junina or Junina party is one of the best loved celebrations in Brazil. It is a catholic celebration where people prepare bazaars in honor of three saints, namely; Saint Anthony, on June 13th; Saint John, on June 24th and Saint Peter, on June 29th. That’s why we call it the June Festival.

We call it Festa Junina because Junino and Junina mean related to the month of June.

June Festival in Brazil

Decoration with colorful little flags at Festa Junina, june festival in Brazil.

Street decoration with colorful little flags

The June festival originated in Europe, mainly in France, and was brought to Brazil by the Portuguese. Here in Brazil this party has its origins in the countryside and used to be a way to celebrate the harvesting of plantations.

The period from June to September was dedicated to harvesting, soil preparation and planting new crops and so the farmers would bring the products from their harvest to this celebration. In the beginning the party was known as Festa Joanina in honor of Saint John, but then the name was changed to Festa Junina.

From the countryside, the festival spread to the big cities and nowadays each region has its own way of celebrating, always with an abundance of music and traditional food on offer. It is always cheerful and colorful, just like all other Brazil celebrations.

In many schools in Brazil there are a lot of celebrations! Many children and teenagers dress in typical clothes especially for this party and rehearse different dances. It’s a great time to celebrate with parents and family!

Typical Food of the June Festival

June Festival in Brazil: Typical food in Festa Junina

It is usual for the festa Junina in Brazil to choose outside venues for the celebration and in Portuguese we call these sites Arraiais. Normally, during the party there are stalls offering typical alcoholic drinks, such as Quentão (an alcoholic beverage made with cachaça, water, sugar, orange peel and lime, cinnamon, clove and slices of apples). We play fun games like; Pau de Sebo (greasy pole), Pescaria (Fishing) and Correio elegante (Love letter) and often have fireworks.

The Brazilian June Festival has a huge variety of traditional countryside food for sale. Each region has its own variety. Let’s take a look at some of these delicious dishes!

North region

In the North region, for example, the most famous dishes are Maniçoba, Tacacá, Tapioca, Vatapá and Bolo de mandioca (cassava/ manioc cake). While in the North East, the most traditional dishes are Baião de dois, Cuscuz (made with cornflour, salt, water and butter) and Caruru (made from okra, onion, shrimp, palm oil and toasted nuts).

Central West

From this region originates many great names of Brazilian Sertanejo – a type of music that is usually played at these festivities. Here we will find dishes such as Pamonha (a paste made from sweet corn, boiled wrapped in corn husks. And it can be savoury or sweet), Sopa paraguaia, Arroz doce (rice pudding) and Empadão goiano (Goiano style samosa).

South

Differing a bit from these previous regions, the South of Brazil offers dishes that are more similar to the Southeast of Brazil, like Salsichão (sausage), Arroz carreteiro, Churrasco and Pinhão (a type of pine nut).

Southeast

Similarly, in the Southeast of Brazil, where Rio de Janeiro is located, the Junina Party also offers delicious dishes. Here I will tell you about ALL the food because we are emphasizing Rio de Janeiro, right? So there are many, many, many delicious dishes, such as Feijão tropeiro, Cuscuz paulista, Caldinho de feijão (common bean soup), Pão de queijo, pizza (yeah, we love pizza too!), pastel (fried pockets stuffed with meat and cheese), espetinho de churrasco (churrasco skewer) Canjica, Popcorn, Pé-de-moleque (a type of peanut brittle), Boiled Corn, Sopa de ervilha (Pea soup), Caldo verde (made with collard greens, potatoes, olive oil, black pepper and salt), Paçoca,  Corn Cake. (Oh, my, I’m hungry now…aren’t you? 😉 )

Other traditional practices

Dancing plays an important part in the festival, and so, two of the most popular dances that people practice are; the Quadrilha (Quadrille or Country Dance) and Forró dances. Likewise, other traditional practices that you can see in a Junina party in Brazil include; the building of a bonfire and the performance of a fictitious Farm Wedding in which a countryman groom marries a countrywoman bride and the bride’s father is usually an angry man that holds a rifle to prevent the groom from running away.

June Festival Brazil: Traditional Costume in Festa Junina

Traditional Costume

The June festival in Brazil is usually cheerfully decorated with colorful bunting, flowers, stars and balloons, meanwhile colorful outfits like lacey dresses, straw hats, boots and plaid shirts, etc are usually worn by the party goers.

Vocabulary for our June Festival in Brazil

Festa Junina June Party
Quermesse Festival
Santo Antônio Saint Antony
São João Saint John
São Pedro Saint Peter
Interior Countryside
Colheita Harvest
Agricultor Farmer
Arraiá Temporary site
Pau de sebo Greasy Pole
Pescaria Fishing
Correio elegante Love letter
 Fogos de artifício Fireworks
Pipoca Popcorn
Milho cozido Boiled Corn
Pamonha Brazilian style tamale
Bolo de fubá Corn cake
Bolo de mandioca Cassava/ Manioc Cake
Cuscuz Couscous
Arroz doce  Rice pudding
 Empadão goiano Regional pie
Salsichão Sausage
Pinhão Big pine nut
Caldinho de feijão Bean soup
Pastel Fried pockets
Espetinho de churrasco Churrasco skewer
Pé de moleque Peanut brittle
Sopa de ervilha Pea soup
Paçoca Peanut candy
Quadrilha Quadrille or Country Dance
Fogueira Bonfire
Casamento de roça Farm Wedding
Noivo caipira Countryman groom
Noiva caipira Countrywoman bride
Fugir Run away
Fantasia Costume
Bandeirolas Bunting
Flores Flowers
Estrelas Stars
Balões Balloons
Chapéu de palha Straw hat
Botas Boots
Camisa xadrez Plaid shirt

 

Time to practice your cultural knowledge about the Junina Party!

  1. What is the traditional drink of the Festa Junina?
  2. What are the three most well known soups of the June party in the Southeast?
  3. In which month does this festival typically take place?
  4. What are the most famous dances of the Festa Junina?
  5. What is the origin of the June party?
  6. What are the most played games of the June party?

 

That’s all folks! Hope you’ve enjoyed learning a little more about our culture and Brazilian celebrations.
Until next time, Cheerio!

           
Click in the links below to see more related Dicas
Holidays in Brazil
History of Tiradentes
Corpus Christi in Brazil
Saint Sebastian’s Day in Rio de Janeiro

Answers:

  1. Quentão
  2. Caldinho de feijão (bean soup), Sopa de ervilha (Pea soup) and Caldo verde (Green soup)
  3. June
  4. Quadrilha (Quadrille or Country Dance) and Forró
  5. Of European origin
  6. Pau de Sebo (greasy pole), Pescaria (Fishing) and Correio elegante

 

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