The French brought the
quadrilha to Brazil, which is a theatrical dance that tells the
story of a marriage in a small town. Even today, the traditional
quadrilha lyrics of Festas Juninas use French
observed are: June 13, Santo Antônio; June 24, São João; and
June 29, São Pedro
for couples dancing,
the folk music of the North East
The music that defines the festivals on a
sonic level. Forró lyrics are usually about love and romance,
passion, jealousy, or reminiscing about an ex-lover.
Forró is danced in partners,
usually man and woman, close together. The man's
right leg is between the woman's legs and her
right leg is between his. His right arm wraps
around her waist and he holds her right hand
with his left hand off to his left side. Dancers
move in sync with one another. The steps for the
man (opposite for the woman) are simply
right-left-right,(hold), left-right-left, (hold)
and repeat. Learn by watching a couple dancing
and pay attention to the hips. Hips are key.
The term forro is actually a corruption of the
English expression, "For All." In the 19th
Century, British companies organized public
dances for its employees in Recife, and the name
Men dress up as farm boys
with suspenders and large straw hats and women wear pigtails,
freckles, painted gap teeth and red-checkered dresses, all in a
loving tribute to the origins of the music, and of themselves,
many of whom are recent immigrants from the countryside to
cities such as Olinda, Recife, and Salvador, and many of whom
return to the rural areas during that season to visit family.
FESTAS JUNINAS / SÃO JOÃO
13JUN , SAINT Peter 29JUN & SAINT JOHN´S DAY 24JUN)
Festas Juninas are very popular in the cities of
Pernambuco as well as the entire Northeast. The cities get hazier from
the smoke of the bonfires associated with St. John´s. The daylight
is shortest during this midwinter solstice holiday, which is officially
recognized in Recife and other cities. The feasts have their own typical
features of music, costumes, food, decoration and games.
The town of
Caruaru, 136km from Recife, boasts the
largest and most genuine celebration. The main focus of merrymaking is
the Pátio do Forró, in the town centre, where different local and
national singers perform shows. Thousands of people from all over Brazil
visit Caruaru all through the month of June – the official date of São
João is the 24th.
Caruaru competes with Campina Grande, Paraíba, for
the title of "Biggest Saint John Festival in the World." Pernambuco is
featured in the Guiness Book of World Records for holding the biggest
outdoor country festival. As the festivals also coincide with the corn
typical dishes served during the Festas Juninas primarily involve corn, such as canjica and pamonha, but also include
peanuts, potatoes and sausages. The celebrations are very colorful and
festive, and often include pyrotechnics.
On some of the days preceding São João, the "Forró Train" travels from
Recife to Caruaru in party spirit, with bars, bands playing in the
carriages, and lots of merrymaking.
the revelling goes on in the suburbs as well as the centre. After June
9th, the rest of the month is given over to a music festival featuring
hundreds of artists in four specially erected dance halls which
can keep people dancing even if it rains. The party features the
inimitable mix of culture and northeastern rhythms found only in
Pernambuco: forró, coco, xote, xaxado, baião, ciranda and marujada,
rock, samba-rock, and manguebeat.
The towns of Gravatá and
Bezerros also provide two great options, with plenty of
square-dancing and "Forro" dancing
This is the time
for traditional celebrations in the Catholic calendar. The days observed
are: June 13, Santo Antônio; June 24, São João; and June 29, São Pedro
and São Paulo.
The most popular dance
during the festivities of the month of June is the Square Dance, in
which there can be a fake wedding that takes place before the actual
A bonfire is always present. People wear clothes
associated with hillbillies (the Portuguese word for hillbilly is "caipira");
young boys make up beards and moustaches, young girls arrange their hair in ponytails.
In full leather regalia, cattlemen of the northeast gather to celebrate
a special outdoor Cowboy's Mass, or Missa do Vaqueiro, in the Pernambuco
backlands, remaining on their horses during the ceremony.
This is also the time for
bumba-meu-boi, or "beat my bull,"
a story of rebirth
which features St. John
While the festival
came over as a summer solistice holiday, here in the southern hemisphere
it is the winter solstice when the night is at its peak. As with the
winter Roman Saturnalia, which became
Christmas, there are many pagan elements to the holidays named after
It is the eves when
the magical part of the Catholic saints holidays connected to love
is expected to manifest itself. It is a time of speculation regarding
lovers and their future. The immortal questions of the heart such as:
who will they marry? Are they to love or be loved? How many children
will they have? Will they die young or be old and wealthy?/font>
The entire month of
June is given to the holidays, but the first
one of the parties of the june cycle is for Saint Antonio. The eve of
this day, significantly, was chosen officially as Day of the
Boyfriends, in Brazil. The cult of Saint Antonio has special
significance because he was a Portuguese saint, born in Lisbon.
Always one of most popular, there is also cult associated with his
legacy. Saint Antonio is also who you pray to when your in a war.
Traditional forro Music is based on the accordion, percussion, and a metal
triangle. There are
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). To drink, there are 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.
Caruaru , 130km
west of Recife. "Capital do Forró "
South America's capital for
ceramic figurine art. The craft market, recognized by UNESCO as
the largest centre for figure sculpture in the Americas, is a
lively, unforgettable place, with crafts in clay, rope and leather. All the natural beauty and customs of the Agreste region of
Pernambuco Caruaru can be seen here as well. To see the artists at work visit Alto do Moura,
which exhibits works by
more than 200 artisans, and allows you to gain a better sense of the better values at
the market. The center also
houses the Museu do Mestre Vitalino. Vitalino (1909 - 1963) is
considered the greatest pottery artisan of the Northeast of
Also in Caruaru, you will find many outdoor musicians,
as well as poets who perform literatura de cordel (literally "string literature), a form of story-telling entertainment which
has managed to survive despite the competition of TV.
This is the interior of the state center of economic activity
and indeed for the large agricultural region, as
there is a "rivalry" between
Caruaru and the city of Campina Grande [www.pmcg.pb.gov.br/],
in the neighbour State of Paraíba, over the title of Capital of
Don't miss the Museum do Forró in the museum section on
Parque 18 de Maio (closed Sun & Mon)
Festivals: In June's São João, Caruaru is taken over by
festivities. Shows of Forró and other rhythms, square dancing,
bonfires, fireworks and corn are some of the ingredients that
make up the event. Locals and tourists that throng the town
every year have given Caruaru the title "Capital of Forró".
At Easter, the town is an obligatory stop on the way to see the
Passion Play at Fazenda Nova, 60km from Caruaru.
Getting There: Bus trips takes 2 hours and runs every
half hour from Recife
directory with websites
Jornal Extra do Agreste
(40 km from Recife)
Considered the 2nd most important craft center in the state, with
a huge Sunday Fair and shops where you can survey the ceramic
work of several master artisans.
Gravatá - Another highland city with moderate climate,
known as the "Brazilian-northern Swiss" because of its weather
and European-influenced architecture with Alpine-style
near the city of Gravatá. It was once the center of coffee
production. Notable tourist attractions include: Lula
Vassoureiro's Atelier, Centro de Artesanato de Pernambuco;
and their two festivals;
Petrolina – Defined by the River Rio
São Francisco and served by three buses daily from Recife. On
the other side of the river bridge is the state of Bahia and the
poorer sister town of Jauzeiro. The two cities, making up
an urban area of almost 500,000 people, are connected by a
modern bridge. Sobradinho dam, enclosing Sobradinho Lake, the
largest artificial lake in the world, is located 26 kilometers
In contrast to the rest of the Northeast of Brazil, a region of
1.5 million sqaure km with poor soils, semiarid climate, and periodic
droughts that has long been viewed as Brazil's foremost "problem
area," the Petrolina-Juazeiro nucleus is a great contrast of
dynamic irrigated agriculture, agro-processing industries
(tomato and fruit-processing) and services.
It is possible to make a 4 day
trip down the river to Minas Gerais, but check in Recife or
Salvador first before you continue further inland to Canudos (5
hours) or enter Bahia and head towards Salvador through Feira
de Santana. This is the land of the sertão.
Garanhuns - an oasis in the dryness of
the pernambucano wasteland.
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