26 Jul

What? There is another carnival in Brazil in the wintertime? Some say the Brazilians can’t wait a whole year until carnival so they created another one…

Like the original it is linked to a Catholic festival in honor of Saint John – “São João” and dates back to Portuguese colonialism.

Festa Junina means Festival of June and is a celebration of the winter harvest and therefore comes with a country and western edge complete with checkered shirts, boots, braids and painted face freckles …they even have square dancing.

I wanted to learn Portuguese in Rio and discovered all this from a course I was taking at Caminos Language Centre who saw it as a great opportunity to take us out of the classroom and learn Portuguese in Rio in a real life festive situation.

They incorporated traditional customs with food and dancing which totally enlivens the ability to learn Portuguese in Rio experience the language with a heavy dose of Brazilian culture.

The rural dress called “Caipira” involves the essential straw hat and the obligatory checked shirt while face painted freckles on is optional. Caminhos teachers were all setting a great example so it was impossible not to throw oneself fully into the atmosphere of this Festa Junina event.

Caminhos Language Centre had been transformed with each classroom taking on a different festival theme…the first guiding through the history of the festival and its rituals such as bonfire lighting to symbolize winter and the specific food and games that are saved for that specific time of year.

Caminhos Teachers In Festa Junina

The second class room had an array of the traditional Junino foods such as the “Bolo de Milho” – Corn Cakes, “Paçaco Peanut” – Brazilian Candy make from Peanuts “Biscoito de Polvilho” – Brazilian Cookies.

There was a showcase of the music – which is quite different to normal Brazilian music and only played at this time of year. When the crowds hear it, they all break into a synchronized dance…like they know every step suddenly from nowhere.

For example, quadrilia – is a specific style of square dance that we learned along with the other traditional Forro, which is danced all year around.

Festa Junino also has games, which is a fun way to learn Portuguese in Rio as we fished for paper fish with our teachers who gave us tips on how to talk like a local …this was great way to learn Portuguese in Rio and laugh with our Portuguese class and new friends.

Now I know all about the Winter Carnival and look forward to it every year plus I can join them now break into Quadrilia dance.