One of the most important cultural symbols in the Brazilian culture is the “Festa Junina” – June Festival. This festival originally came from Portugal, a country deeply rooted in Catholic tradition. June is the month that commemorates most famous saints of Catholicism: Saint Anthony on June 13th, Saint John Baptist on June 24th, and Saint Peter on June 29th. According to anthropologists, Festa Junina started before the Christian era with the summer solstice, when the Celtics and Egyptians celebrated the end of the harvest season.
The native Brazilian Indians have their own celebrations during winter (remember that in the southern hemisphere the seasons are reversed), those celebrations were added to the Portuguese celebrations brought by the Jesuits. Brazilian culture by nature embraces and incorporates traditions and festivities from all over the world.
During the celebrations of Festa Junina, you will taste lots of delicious foods, like pinhão, Curau, pamonha, doce de abóbora, sweet-potato and manioc (cassava, yucca or yuca…depending on where you are from). All of these dishes are part of native Brazilian cuisine and incorporate influence from Portuguese dishes like quentão, pé-de-moleque, bolo de fubá and etc. We have our own version of the mulled wine with spices and small apple cubes.
Dancing during the Festa Junina is always the highlight of the festival. Usually you’ll see a theater performance where a single man is pressured to marry a girl because she is pregnant and her father expects him to take responsibility. During the performance, traditional songs are sung and everyone participates, including the families of the bride and groom, priests, police officers, and everyone else from the imaginary village. Watch a great Festa Junina dance performance below: