FESTAS JUNINAS (June Parties) in Brasilia

Festas Juninas (June Parties) are part of the Brazilian Culture. They take place in the months of May, June and July and always cheer the weekends of those months. In Brasília, the temperature is low in this season of the year. That’s what makes people go taste the typical food and enjoy a good quentão (hot drink made of wine or Brazilian rum and ginger) while people warm themselves by the fire. Don’t miss the opportunity to know this side of Brazilian Culture, very popular in the northeastern states of the country.

The June parties started long ago with the celebrations in the Roman Empire. There were celebrations to the god Juno. These festivities were brought to Europe by the Greek, and goddess Juno, who is known as Hera in the Greek mythology, was celebrated in June throughout Europe, at the same time that Europeans were thanking the crop. Juno got married with Jupiter (Zeus in Greece) and she was the symbol of fertility, love and fidelity. Juno was considered the Roman supreme goddess, married with the ruling god, Jupiter. They believe that she watched and protected all women and was called by the Romans “the one who makes the child see the light of day”. To this day, many people consider the month of June, which is named after the goddess who is the patroness of marriage, to be the most favorable time to marry. With the spreading of Christianity throughout Europe many ancient traditions were eradicated but some were incorporated to the Roman Catholic Church and the marriage abilities of Juno were passed on to Saint Anthony.

Many Festas Juninas has a tall pole with a Saint John image hanging on it. Tradition says that Elizabeth, Saint John’s mother, used a tall pole to announce the son’s birth to Saint John’s aunt, Mary who was expecting Jesus. In Brazil, this pole was transformed into a special attraction: it is the so-called pau-de-sebo (greased pole). The pole is covered with grease and money or any other kind of prize is placed on its top.

The colorful sheds, balloons, lights and ornaments create the joy environment that characterizes the June parties. Those approaches only would be enough to justify such success. However such peculiar manifestation provides other pleasant surprises revealed by its colors, forms and rhythms of such a charming atmosphere.

The June Parties are also known by its traditional food, drinks and a theatrical dance inherited from the French quadrilha, a folk dance with a theatrical presentation that tells the story of a marriage in a small town, around a bonfire. This dance became the official dance of Festa Junina. There is also Forró as another traditional dance of the party.

The highest point of this party is the traditional food. There are different dishes in every region, but the common among them are canjica, pop corn, quentão, bolo de fubá (cornmeal cake), pé-de-moleque (a kind of peanut candy), cocada (a coconut candy), pamonha (made with corn), corn on the cob and many hot soup stocks. The other dishes you can find are cassava cake, sweet tapioca with coconut, peanut brittle, tacacá (porridge of a kind of cassava—tucupi—starch and shrimp served hot in a bowl), caruru (okra, cashew nuts, shrimp and peanut), vatapá (a spicy dish made with ginger, coconut milk, pepper and palm oil) and aluá (pineapple peel juice). There are also the traditional barbeque with meet, big hot dogs, chicken and cheese.

During May, June and July, many Festas Juninas will happen in most of the neighborhoods of Brasilia. Most of them are organized by the churches, but there are also some big events organized by the clubs, with famous Brazilian singers as attractions.

The festas juninas are fun for the whole family, especially for the kids. Just remember to take coats because the weather becomes very cold at night this time of the year.