Wednesday, February 17, 2010

What does that mean?

Festa Junina, typically termed São João (Saint John) as it is centered on that saint's day, is the name of annual Brazilian celebrations (historically related to the Midsummer and Saint John festivities in Europe) which take place in the beginning of the Brazilian winter, consequently during the European summer. These festivities, which were introduced in the country by the Portuguese during the colonial period (1500-1822), are most associated with Northeastern Brazil, but today celebrated in the whole country. It's mainly celebrated on the following days of the Catholic feast of Saint Anthony, John the Baptist and Saint Peter.
As the northeast is largely arid or semi-arid these popular festivals not only coincide with the end of the rainy seasons of most states in the northeast but they also provide the people with an opportunity to give thanks toSaint John for the rain. They also celebrate rural life and feature typicalclothing, food, dance (particularly quadrilha, which is similar to square dancing). Like Midsummer and Saint John's Day in Portugal and Scandinavian countries, São João celebrates marital union. The "quadrilha" features couple formations around a mock wedding whose bride and groom are the central attraction of the dancing.
Usually taking place in an "arraial", a large, open space outdoors, men dress up as farm boys with suspenders and large straw hats and women wear pigtails, freckles, painted gap teeth and red-checkered dresses, all in a loving tribute to the origins of Brazilian country music,.
Nowadays, São João festivities are extremely popular in all urban areas and among all social classes.
São João coincides with the corn harvest. Special dishes served during São João are made with corn, such as canjica and pamonha. Dishes may also include peanuts, potatoes sausages and rice. The celebrations are very colorful and festive and include amazing pyrotechnics. Bonfires and fire in general are thus one of the most important features of these festivities, a feature that is among the remnants of Midsummer pagan rituals in the Iberian Peninsula.

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