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A typical Brazilian festa junina.


Festa Junina, typically termed São João (Saint John) as it is centered on that saint's day, is the name of annual Brazilianmarker 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 to Saint John for the rain. They also celebrate rural life and feature typical clothing, 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, and of themselves, some of whom are recent immigrants from the countryside to cities such as Olindamarker, Recifemarker, Maceiómarker and Salvadormarker, and some of whom return to the rural areas during that season to visit family. However, nowadays, São João festivities are extremely popular in all urban areas and among all social classes. In the Northeast, they are as popular as Carnival. It should be noted that, like during Carnival, these festivities involve costume-wearing (in this case, peasant costumes), dancing, drinking, and visual spectacles (fireworks display and folk dancing). Like the original European Midsummer celebrations, during the two-week June festivities in Brazil, bonfires are lit. They can be seen everywhere in northeastern cities.

Two northeastern towns in particular have competed with each other for the title of "Biggest São João Festival in the World", namely Caruarumarker (in the state of Pernambuco), and Campina Grandemarker,in Paraíbamarker state. In fact, Caruaru features in the Guinness Book of World Records for holding the biggest outdoor country festival.

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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