Brazil: Fun Around the Fire

Brazil: Fun Around the Fire

    Festas juninas were brought to Brazil by Portuguese and
    Spanish settlers celebrating the harvest
    and their favorite
    saints. The cool June weather calls for bonfires. People will
    eat special sweets and
    drink quentão, dress up like country
    bumpkins and play typical games and win prizes.


    Monica Trentini


    June is a lively month in Brazil. If you live here or are passing by you will be invited to a
    festa junina, where you will eat Brazilian sweets and drink
    quentão, a warm drink made with
    pinga or vinho quente, a warm spicy wine. Children
    dress up like country bumpkins and play typical games and win prizes.

    One of the highlights of a festa junina is a
    quadrilha, which is a type of square dance with sometimes over twenty
    participants. A "couple" getting married leads the other couples in the
    quadrilha. Their wedding ceremony is only one part
    of a complex dance. The groom always runs away and is often brought back by an angry father of the bride. It is quite a
    spectacle. Sometimes, the participants even switch roles, the girls dressed up as boys and the boys as girls. This makes the
    quadrilha even funnier. The cool June weather calls for bonfires. Colorful flags are strung up and paper hot-air balloons are
    released into the sky. The fun continues on into the night.

    Where did this idea come from? Why is it a part of Brazilian culture? Portuguese and Spanish settlers celebrating
    the harvest and worshipping saints brought these parties to Brazil.

    Although it has become a commercialized party, the traditional
    festa junina is still celebrated in the Northeast and in
    rural communities, where Catholic people commemorate their favorite saints. These saints’ statues are hoisted onto shoulders
    and paraded through town on their special day. Three saints are commemorated in June: Santo Antônio de Pádua (Saint
    Anthony), the patron saint of weddings (13/06); São João Batista (Saint John), the saint who is a model for a perfect life (24/06);
    and São Pedro (Saint Peter), who guards the pearly gates of heaven (29/06).

    During these June parties, it has been customary for couples to take advantage of the festivities to get married. The
    festa junina you might attend here in São Paulo (or in any other urban area) is a reenactment that does not necessarily include
    religion and is just for fun. Schools, clubs and churches host these parties.

    The largest festa junina in Brazil is in Campina Grande, state of Paraíba. Tourists enjoy this typical party. Are you
    interested in a fun vacation spot in June? Look into it.

    I started out researching for this article by looking for interesting
    festa junina recipes for you to follow and make
    typical foods such as maria mole,
    rapadura, pamonha, pé de
    moleque, paçoca, sweet and salty popcorn, cotton candy
    (algodão doce), churrasco,
    curau de milho, milho verde,
    canjica, doce de abóbora, doce de
    amendoim, cocada, and many others. However, I happened upon some other very interesting recipes, which do not always require food. These recipes are
    called simpatias and they are not followed to nourish the stomach, but to nourish the soul. Now, this is some interesting stuff. I
    chose some good ones, which might be useful to you.
    Simpatias are made all year long, but women who would like to get
    married on Santo Antônio’s day follow these recipes to increase their chances not to always be the aunt, so to speak.

    How to Win the Man You Want

    Take a piece of white paper and put it on a plate. Draw a heart the size of the bottom of the plate. Cut out the heart
    and write the name of the man you want on the fist three lines. On the next three lines, write your name. Place the heart on
    the plate, pour some honey on it, with some white rose petals. Light a white candle in the middle of the plate and let it burn
    out completely. When the candle has burnt out, think strongly of the man you want. Save the plate for seven days. Wash the
    rose petals and put them in a book. The plate with the heart should be left in a garden where there are thorny plants.

    How to Have a Peaceful Pregnancy

    Take a bootie and put three candies in it. Take it to a garden and ask to have a peaceful pregnancy. After the birth of
    the baby, take the other bootie and put three candies in it. Take it into a garden and give thanks for having achieved your goal.

    How to Always Have Enough Money in Your Wallet

    Make a small bag with the cloth and put 3 grains of chicken corn and 3 coins of any value in it. Place this bag in
    your wallet.

    How to Make You Happier

    Cook 6 handfuls of rice until it is nice and soft. On 6 small pieces of white paper, write your wishes that should
    make you happy. Make 6 balls with the rice, not forgetting to place a piece of paper in each one. Place them on the plate with
    plenty of sugar. Leave this in your house for 6 days and later place it in an empty lot.

    How to Get a Good Empregada (house maid)

    Wash a new picture of São Benedito with water and dry it off. The picture should be placed in your kitchen next to a
    cup with water and a piece of salsa. Make your wish and each time the salsa gets wilted, change it and the water as well.
    When you get the empregada, write her name at the feet of São Benedito. This picture should stay in your kitchen for a long
    time. Don’t forget to change the water and the salsa frequently.

    For Your Husband to Remain in Love with You Forever

    Put a piece of paper with your name and your husband’s written on it on a plate on top of 3
    quindins (egg-yolk and coconut pudding) and some honey. Make your wish and keep it in your house overnight. Later, put it in a garden.

    Other recipes include:

    – To not have problems at work

    – To have less hair loss

    – To keep people from being jealous of your house


    Monica O’Day Trentini was born in the US but raised in Brazil. She attended American Schools and
    eventually went to The University of Virginia, where she graduated with a Master’s in Teaching. She married a Brazilian
    and moved to São Paulo. She left teaching to raise her children and started a business making and selling home-made
    cookie dough and baked cookies to people. She delivers cookies in São Paulo, but orders have come from as far as
    Arizona! She currently has her articles published at  and in The Flash, a printed newsletter for The
    International Newcomers’ Club in São Paulo. Monica’s e-mail is, and she welcomes
    your responses to her articles, as well as your cookie orders!


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