June Festivals (Festas Juninas) part 1

I’m a bit late with this post, but as we say in Brazil “Better later than never.”. Obviously that doesn’t apply to everything, but  here I go! Every year in Brazil we celebrate the Festas Juninas (June Festivals). They were brought by the Portuguese during the colonization times to celebrate Saint Anthony (13th June), Saint John (24th June ) and Saint Peter (29th June). In general these festivals celebrate a good harvest and typical habits of rural life.

Traditional June's Festival

Photo by Ze Carlos Barreta

People get all dressed up in typical costumes, make up and hairdos (my 1st favourite part!). Man dress up like farmers and women wear pretty colorful gingham dresses and pig tails. Both can wear straw hats and might have gap-teeth made up. Sometimes people just improvise wearing country clothes (plaid shirts and jeans trousers) or as simple as just the hat, pig tails and drawn freckles and colourful clothes.

Women dressed up wearing pig tails and typical make up

Photo by Katler Dettmann

All the venues (called Arraial during June Festivals) are decorated will colorful flags. There is a big fire where people dance around as well as a bonfire! I love how colorful these festivals are.


Also, there is always the big group dance called quadrilha. During this dance, it is performed a Wedding, so in every quadrilha, there is a bride, a groom and a priest. The whole festival is accompanied by a lot of typical music.

Quadrilha dance including Bride and Groom

Photo by Ze Carlos Barreta

Typical food (my 2nd favourite part!) is served through out the parties and mostly they have as base the corn because of the harvest. In Brazil, usually we use corn (and products from corn such as corn flour, flaked corn meal) as ingredients for desserts, but as well as some savoury dishes such as polenta, popcorn or cuzcuz (steamed flaked corn flour cake with vegetables). For sweet dishes, specially during the festivals, we can have:

  • Bolo de Fuba: sweet corn flour cake
  • Corn juice: made with milk
  • Pamonha: mashed corned with coconut milk wrapped and boiled in corned husks, see photo below on the right
  • Canjica: whole maize kernels, milk, sugar and cinnamon
  • Curau: sweet corn pudding, photo below on the left
  • Sweet popcorn
Curau (left) and pamonha (right) made of corn

Photo by Giselli Carvalho

Savoury dishes:

  • corn on the cob
  • hot dog
  • pastel (fried pastry with sweet or savoury fillings)
  • kafta (mince beef shaped into a sausage on a skewer stick)
  • pinhão (boiled pine nut)

Other typical foods not made with corn are paçoca (peanut bars), pé de moleque (peanut brittle), rice pudding, candied apples, coconut bars, sweet potatoes and fudge.

There are also typical drinks such as our version of Mulled Wine, which is very similar to the ones you drink in the UK, but instead of slices of oranges, Brazilians add chopped apples.

And the Quentão, made with cachaça (Brazilian vodka), ginger and other spices all boiled together; and last but not least, the old hot chocolate. You might ask “Hot drinks in June?”. Yes, because in Brazil, June is the beginning of the Winter, so it is cold there. Well, it is like Summer in England (14C to 20C), but in Brazil, this is quite cold considering they get at least 30C most of the year. :)

Part 2 of this post coming up this weekend…


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