Festa Junina is the term used to describe the traditional festivities that happen at the beginning of the Brazilian winter in June. It is a month to commemorate some of the most famous saints for Catholics; namely Saint Anthony, Saint John the Baptist and Saint Peter. It is also a month to honor rain, the harvest season and marital union. Visitors celebrate from mid-June until the end of July and in some cities, festivities even continue until late August. Those attending will be treated to typical Brazilian food, will dress up like farmers, enjoy bonfires and dance the quadrilha. After Carnival, it is the second most important popular celebration in Brazilian culture.
Quadrilha folk dances are a vital component of Festa Junina. Dances involve up to 30 colorfully dressed performers, while a chosen ‘bride and groom’ act as the center of the spectacle. Inspiration is taken from the 17th century French quadrilles, a type of traditional square dance, while the Brazilian adaptations are considerably more complex. Before the actual dance starts, a theater performance tells the story of a single man who is pressured into marrying a girl that is carrying his child. Everyone participates by singing traditional songs, including the lovers’ families, the police, the priests and everyone who comes from their ‘village’. Vibrant and highly convivial, these jovial dances are without a doubt the highlight of the Festa Junina.
The typical clothes worn at the Festa Junina are inspired by vintage rural fashion as the themes of harvest and rain are central to the festivities. Young men wear shorts with braces, while women put their hair up in ponytails, wear checkered dresses and paint freckles on their faces.