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Festas Juninas - Feasts of June
Three very popular Saints are celebrated in June: St. Anthony, on June 13th (this Saint is said to be a matchmaker; women who are loosing hopes to find a husband appeal to St. Anthony, particularly during the periods of the June Parties), St. John (according to popular faith, the responsible for a good harvest of corn), on the 24th, and St. Peter (the guardian of heavens, with control over the clouds and rains), on the 29th.
It became a Brazilian tradition to organize parties to celebrate these saints; because they always happen in June, they were called "Festas Juninas" in Portuguese. The tradition originated in the smaller cities of the countryside, where people were more religious and more dependant on good crops; today, the parties can be found all over the country. In larger cities, itīs common to see these parties being organized by churches or schools, which try to raise some extra funds.
The feasts have some typical features: music, costumes, food, decoration, games.
A bonfire is always present (June is a cold month in south of Brazil). People wear clothes associated with hillbillies (the Portuguese word for hillbilly is "caipira"); young boys make up beard and moustache; young girls arrange ponytails. Music is based on simple instruments (triangle, accordion), with several traditional songs.
Food is heavily based on corn and other ingredients available on farms; boiled corn, baked corn, popcorn, several candies based on corn, milk and peanuts (pe-de-moleque, canjica, curau, pamonha, cocada, etc; click here for some recipes of typical Junine food - in Portuguese only). To drink, several juices for kids, and, to help adults warm up, quentao (the name means "very hot"; the drink is prepared with cachaca , sugar, and gengiber).
The Festas Juninas are more popular in the cities of Northeast. Recife, for example, is covered with smoke during most of June; St. Johnīs is official holiday in Recife and other cities.
Some cities claim the organize "the best Sao Joao in the world", and attract many tourists from other regions. For more information, visit the official websites of the cities of Caruaru and Campina Grande
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