The Brazilian Carnival is widely known as a fun street party that happens all over the country. But the truth is that if you want to have a more local and spontaneous taste of the Brazilian culture, instead of going to the country in February to a incredibly televised Carnival party, arrive in June, when Brazilians from all ages will be preparing their locals June parties. And the weather may not be so darn hot.
The June Party, called Festa Junina or Festa de São João, is a traditional celebration that commemorates three saints: Saint Anthony, Saint John and Saint Peter. Festa Junina started as a way to mark the beginning of the harvest in the interior cities of Brazil, as well as the end of the summer, which basically means less rain.
As a colonized country, a lot of our traditions started with the Portuguese and other European cultures, but Brazil made the festivities more local by adding their own personal reason for the parties: the dance and the food.
The nicest thing of Festa Junina that separates it from carnival is that people can dance fun choreographies following engaging and dynamic local songs. The choreographies are called “quadrilhas” (quadrilles) and they require multiple partners dancing together in a very synchronized and fast-paced way.
Even though Festa Junina happens in different dates and places, it became really big in the Northeast of Brazil, where huge street parties and competitions take place during the whole month.
Nowadays, most schools throw their own celebrations, so kids can interact with friends, dress up with typical rural clothes and dance the quadrilhas. It’s a great way to finish the first semester of school and be ready for the July school holidays.
Eating is one of the biggest parts of any festival (except Carnival, where drinking seems to be the most important thing). In the Festas Juninas, food plays a huge role, especially if you enjoy corn, peanuts and coconut. Check two of very famous corn-based food among Brazilians:
‘Pamonha’ is a sweet corn and milk recipe wrapped in corn husks. They can be sweet or savoury.
Canjica’ is a mush made of white corn.
As you can see, if you prefer a fun and traditional party full of dance and interesting food, check out the Brazilian June Parties. It’s not as crazy as the Carnival parties, but it is a cosy and welcoming celebration with a lot of good local music, incredible dances and great and warm food.