June 24, 2015

Festa Junina benefiting Despertar

Turnout has been wonderful with guests, friends, and family of UXUA staff visiting us during the traditional Festa Junina (June Festival), as we host a small Quermesse (traditional bazaar) and sell homemade delicacies for people to enjoy while strolling around the festivities in the Quadrado. We're raising money for Despertar, a local charity offering Trancoso residents free instruction in the arts, languages, and career skills.

The Festa Junina is one of our favorite celebrations, very much a part of the rural, agricultural culture of northeast Brazil. Dating back to the earliest colonial period, the tradition recognizes various saints including São João (Saint John the Baptist). Tents are raised and games and raffles take place, bonfires burn while dances are held.

The tents raised to hold the celebrations are called arraial and are made of raw material and thatched roof, structures reserved for special parties in old rural areas. Men often attend dressed up as farm boys with large straw hats and women wear pigtails, freckles, painted gap teeth and red-checkered dresses. The June Festival is one of the most fun but least internationally famous parties of Brazil, exactly the kind of event we love.

Old-fashioned Quentão

Of course lots of traditional food is served during the evenings of the Festa Junina and is usually washed down with the warm drink Quentão, made from mulled cachaça (a distilled spirit derived from sugarcane) with jenipapo fruit cream, ginger and other spices. We make it on our traditional fogão (wood-burning stove) in an antique fisherman house dating back to the 1500's.