It’s the month of São João!

(from ForróLetters #5)

Did you know that St. John’s Day is celebrated in many countries? In Brazil, even though São João is on June 24, the “festas juninas” take place throughout June and July all over the country.

Imported in the 16th century by the Portuguese, the festas juninas gradually lost their religious character and assimilated more elements from the indigenous and African roots of the country, to become a strong symbol of the rural areas of the Northeast.

Today they honor three saints: Santo Antônio (June 13), São João (June 24) and São Pedro (June 29).

During the festas juninas, people organize “arraiais”, big parties and eat a lot of dishes based on corn, the month of June being harvest time. Among the typical dishes: bolo de milho (corn cake), pipoca (popcorn), cuscuz (cornmeal), canjica (rice pudding with white corn instead of rice), pamonha (a kind of polenta cooked in coconut milk), or pés de moleque (a kind of peanut caramel in molasses). And they drink quentão (hot wine). It is the occasion to get out your straw hat, plaid shirts and dungarees!

And of course you’ll have to dance the famous “quadrilha”, a collective folk dance that originated in the quadrille, present in the salons of the French aristocracy and the French royal court.

There are also weddings (fake ones, but still) because after all, Santo Antonio is the holy “matchmaker”!

And last but not least, we sing and dance forró, a lot of forró!

Besides, what better way to talk about São João than Luiz Gonzaga and “Olha Pro Céu”?

PS: Did you know that there are even competitions as for the carnival?