June holds some major celebrations in Brazil like the “Festa de São João” (St. John the Baptist Festival) and the Folklore Festival of Parintins. I’m going to divided this article in two parts, one for each event. Here goes the part I:
The “Festa de São João” also known as “Festa Junina” or “arraial” is a popular celebration held in different days of June (but officially on 24th) and incorporates many different cultural elements, but mostly references to the northeastern rural inhabitants of Brazil.
People traditionally wear country-style clothing like checkered shirts and dresses, straw hats, braids and freckles for girls and mustaches for boys. There are some typically related food like corn cakes and chowders, candy apples and Vatapá.
There are also dances like the quadrille (with different variations) and typical ornamentation such as bonfires and colorful flags. People often use this theme for birthday parties in June. My sister (who was born on June 27th – Happy birthday to her, yay!) surely had one. It was her 1 year birthday and she was utterly cute… and well, my mother made me wear traditional outfit on that day too.
The bonfire is a very important item of the festival and it probably comes from the pagan celebration of the midsummer solstice, where bonfires were also lighten. During Middle Ages, little by little it became a tribute to St. John the Baptist.
Small versions of hot hair balloons (known as “Balões de São João”) were often used in the past. Nowadays, due to many accidents, they are being less used and becoming just a part of the decoration itself.
There are similar celebrations in other parts of the world like Portugal for example, where it marks the begging of catholic festivals around the country. And Since Brazil was a Portugal colony, it inherited many of its cultural traditions, the “Festa Junina” was probably another one of them. But Brazil managed to incorporate its own traces into it making it a really fun celebration.