The month of June comes again and with it the June festivities that gain colors, flavors and diverse forms here in our region. Many times we do not realize the origins, symbologies and influences of the June holidays.
From the tasty varied dishes made mostly from corn and macaxeira, to decorations, stoves, dances and popular expressions that express in their essence the richness of their culture.
These celebrations already took place in several European countries since the Middle Ages and are related to the pagan festival of the summer solstice. Already with the Catholic influence, in the southern hemisphere, went to represent the winter solstice, rainy season in our region that brings back life and hope to farmers, fertile time for the culture of corn, macaxeira, sugar cane, feijão, among others.The rain that falls is so awaited by all, revives the pastures, the fields flourish, strengthens the fruitful trees and fills the rivers and dry lakes with water and life. The Junin festivities and festivals of the popular saints such as Santo Antonio, San Jõao, San Pedro and São Paulo have their roots in the Catholic celebrations brought to Brazil by the Portuguese during the arduous period of colonization and process of catechization of the Brazilian natives and his descendants. The traditions were absorbed by the Brazilian population and won their place, both by the influences of the French, Spanish and Dutch, as well as by the influences of African peoples within the process of religious syncretism and cultural miscegenation.
Essentially, Santo Antonio is celebrated on June 13, San Jõao Batista on June 24 and San Pedro and San Paulo on June 29. On the eve of June 13, the day of Saint Anthony, amorous promises and sympathy are made in search of a love, because the saint is known as a matchmaker. All the streets are lit with the fires lined up, each house a bonfire, burning until dawn the next day, tradition in our region. On June 24, the day of San Jõao, bonfires take on greater proportions and on the day of San Pedro and São Paulo, which marks the end of the festivities of June, bonfires, typical foods and games such as "pau do tallow "(game consisting of climbing on a soaped stick) and the release of fireworks fill the junina atmosphere. Despite their Catholic nature, the festivities took on different characteristics according to each region of Brazil and incorporate popular elements such as African or indigenous Brazilian matrices. With this rich mixture, we find in our region the elements and manifestations of "coco do zambê", "coco de roda" and the "tradition of the shepherd", typical Brazilian dances.
The place where the majority of juniper festivities take place is called the arraial (village), a large outdoor space fenced or not, where barracks are erected and adapted only for the party. Generally, the arraial is decorated with colorful paper flags, balls and palm leaves. In the arraial, dances, games and marriages take place.
Stoves and Bonfires
The oldest beliefs used the symbolism of the bonfires as protection of the evil spirits, prosperity in the plantations and gratitude in the collections, but here they serve more for heating the leather during the tuning of the Zambe drums, to heat the bodies , raise the spirits and illuminate the nights of celebration.
In the Catholic tradition, the square fire is lit for Santo Antonio, the round for San Jõao and the triangular for San Pedro. Here the fires are made of wood or dry stick aligned parallel in a beam placed in front of the house. The bonfire is lit only on one side that throughout the night and with the help of the wind is being consumed until its other extremity.
The fireworks come from China, also used as a way of thanking the gods for good collections and protection against evil spirits. Nowadays the fires are part of the Junin festivals and they became an authentic element within the junino context, to cause noise, beauty and challenge, as well as we see also the games of jumping the bonfire.
Due to the rainy season and the culture of sugar cane, corn and macaxeira, it is very easy to enjoy typical dishes from the northeast such as: canjica, pamonha, curau, cooked corn, pochoclo and corn cake. Typical dishes of the festivities are the sweet rice, the cocada, the frevilhado, the corn broa (cookie), the tapioca, the pe-de-moleque, the sweet potato, among others.
The tradition of the "quadrilha" in Brazil has its original name of a French dance hall for four pairs, the "quadrilha" , which arrived in Brazil following the tendencies of the middle class and the Portuguese and Brazilian elites of the 19th century.
Here in our region, the "quadrilha" is often commemorated in the street, where the game brings together the whole community and many tourists and residents. The abundance of food and relaxation are constant elements, the sound of preference is a good band of forró, also accompanying other rhythms from the "baião", the "xaxado", "xote", etc.
Even today, among young people, gangs and regional competitions give that tradition a new face, more modern, competitive, with elaborate fantasies and academic organization.
In recent years, due to the religious ideology contrary to the celebration of the saints, unfortunately the joyful popular celebration lost strength and little is seen in the streets, beyond a few private parties and a timid bonfire there.
We expected again to relive the popular celebration that celebrates the joy of the winter solstice, the celebration of the saints and the popular demonstrations that light the streets of our town with colors and flavors.
Let the "coco do zambe" come, the "pau do sebo", the "popular gang", the "forró" and the rain, lots of rain if God wants!
By Isaac Ache. Text originally published in the Bora Magazine - edition 06 - Jun / Jul 2014