By Maíra Amorim, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO – In Brazil’s winter months of June and July, folkloric events take place throughout the country. A tradition that began in Portugal, the festivals commemorate Saint John, Saint Peter and Saint Anthony. The associated rituals were brought to Brazil during colonial times, and have since become a veritable institution during the “cold” period of the year.
The party’s roots in the Catholic Church are taken seriously by many Brazilians. Others just prefer to focus on the music, dance, food and costumes that come together to form the “festas juninas”. Also referred to as “arraial” (singular) and “arraiás” (plural) for the outdoor areas where booths are set up, the events have a relaxed, country feel popular with urban Cariocas.
On Friday July 3rd, Circo Voador will host their own event with four bands from the Northeast, where traditions are the strongest. All groups play forró, the quintessential rhythm from this part of the country. Silvério Pessoa, Trio Nordestino, Trio Pé de Serra and Trio Candieiro will present a tribute to the late and great Jackson do Pandeiro.
The costumes are lighthearted and true to folkloric roots, emphasizing a corny, cowboy style. Straw hats (with fake braids for girls), plaid shirts, dresses made of chita fabric and exaggerated make-up create a convivial atmosphere.
The gastronomic delicacies on offer are one of the event’s biggest attractions. They include quentão (mulled wine), sweet corn, canjica (a grain prepared with coconut milk and cinnamon and served hot), sausages, paçoca (a mashed peanut dessert), popcorn, cocada (coconut with condensed milk), pamonha and cural (both made of corn).
Fundição Progresso is also organizing a big “arraial” on Saturday, July 4th. Their event, sponsored by the radio station FM O Dia, caters to a more commercial crowd. The music deviates from the Northeastern theme, and is less connected to the festival’s roots. Expect to hear funk carioca, as mixed by DJs Sapão, Catra and Menor da Chapa, as well as pagode from the bands Molejo and Bom Gosto, and the samba group Sempre Assim.
Nevertheless, traditions will be kept alive with typical foods and amusements. A mechanical bull, fishing, boca do palhaço (a game in which a ball is aimed at a clown’s mouth) and a kissing booth are sure to keep revelers entertained.
With a range of styles from authentic to modern, the “festas juninas” have something for everyone. Boots will be kicked up, hats will be donned, and this weekend in Rio promises to deliver some memorable festival fun. If that isn’t enough, festivities will be taking place around Rio throughout the month of July.
Arraial do Circo
Circo Voador – Friday, July 3rd – 10PM
Rua dos Arcos, S/N – Lapa – Tel.: (21) 2533-0354
R$20 (students) and R$40 (full price)
Arraiá da FM O Dia
Fundição Progresso – Saturday, July 4th – 10PM
Rua dos Arcos, 24 – Lapa – Tel.: (21) 2220-5070
R$15/$R20 (female/male students) and R$30/$R40 (full price)