RECIFE , Pernambuco , Brazil

Festas Juninas - the origins

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June parties June feasts have agrarian origin related to the pageant history in Europe.
They celebrate the change of solstice, the fertilization of Earth, the time of harvests and they honor Juno and other Gods and Godesses of the ancient civilizations related to fertility.
Introduced into Brazil by the Portuguese colonizers, they mean an assemble of heathens to honor Catholic saints like Saint Joseph (on March 19th), Saint Anthony (June 13th), Saint John (June 24th) and Saint Peter (June 28th).

The June feasts honor Saint John as the main symbol of the announcement of the Messias arrival on Earth. The other saints are honored on their specific days and they also have great influence over people´s devotion. Saint Joseph, protector of families, takes over the name of Oxossi (or Odé) in Afro-Brazilan religion Candomblé. Saint Anthony, protector of the poor people and a wedding provider, is named Ogum; the Brazilian Valentine´s Day is, not by coincidence, celebrated on June 12nd, eve of Saint Anthony´s Day. Saint John, the party owner, corresponds to Xangô, and Saint Peter, protector of widows and of fishermen, owner of rain and keykeeper of Heaven, is the orixá (saint in the Afro-Brazilian language) Exu.

Time of meetings and dates, the feast is a moment when everyone gives privilege to amusement. Parents relax and their children and teenagers feel free to take part in dances, games, rehearsals and preparation of the party. Is does not take long for teenagers to fall in love with each other. Many engage. The moment is one of socialization, of discovering another person and love.

In Brazil, the feast has lost a lot of its agrarian characteristics, especially during celebration in the large cities. In the Northeast the rites are directly related to the start of corn harvest and its devotion acts. In the South and Center there is not a relation between the feast and the agrarian rites, but to the devotion rites.
In Recife, these June parties are valued so highly that the 24th of June, Saint John´s day, is a local holiday.

As said before, it is remarkable the influence of the Afro-Brazilian rites in the feast. All over the month of June followers of Candomblé rites crowd the yards where they take place to honor Xangô. Besides religion, there is a great influence of the African uses in the local cuisine during this time of year.

Read more:
Festas Juninas in Recife: the programme scheduled for 2005.
Quadrilhas. Typical dance, performed during the period of the Festas Juninas.
Superstitions. Some superstitions of the Brazilian culture during this epoch.
Sympathies. Rituals to find a mate.

Source: Website of the city of Recife.