Festa Junina in Curitiba

What else are you going to do when it is chucking down?

What else are you going to do when it is chucking down?

June is not the most pleasant of months here in Curitiba in the south of Brazil.  It has been very wet and chilly, especially in the last two weeks as it doesn’t seem to have stopped raining for more than 10 minutes.  In Europe they cheer themselves up during the long cold winters with Christmas, New Year and various other holidays.  Here we don’t have such harsh winters, but we do have Festa Junina, or June Party.

Clothes

All the clothes are based on a caricature of caipira (sort of country bumpkin) costumes.  Lots of checked shirts, red neckerchiefs and patched up jeans for the boys and very colourful patchwork style dresses for the girls.  The parents were encouraged to dress up as well with varying degrees of success.  One couple really went for it and won the prize, but most of the time if anybody made an effort it was the wife.  Most of the men (me included) put on a checked shirt and lots of them had a straw hat as well, but that was about it.

Take your partners by the hand

Take your partners by the hand

Music

Absolutely awful is the only way to describe it.  Think of the very worst country and western music you have ever heard.  Make it worse so that it is suitable for little kids and then have them dance in bad approximations of line dancing and you are only half the way to imagining how bad it can possible be.  I could have just about handled it when my son was dancing, only he decided he hated it more than me and cried his heart out and refused to dance.

A large part of me was very proud of him.

This is an example of some dreadfully bad music that might have been played at the party I went to, but it all sounded the same to me.

Food and Drink

Very sweet cakes.  Hot dogs with everything on them, including sweetcorn.  Sweet rice (a bit like rice pudding, only a lot sweeter).  Pé de moleque (Literally ‘street children’s feet’: made of peanuts and melted sugar).  Popcorn (probably with added sugar, but I must confess I didn’t try it).  Basically, whatever you can find but put a load of sugar in it.

The main drink is quentão, or ‘the big hot one’.  In the rest of Brazil this is made from cachaça, but in the south it is made from red wine.  It has to be served hot with ginger, cloves nutmeg and various other spices that can be found.  If done well, this can be drinkable, but you are pretty much guaranteed a hangover if you drink too much.  I already had a hangover and was the designated driver, so I cut back on the sugar and stuck to Coke.

Games

Bingo!  Lots of bingo.  I lost count of how many games were played.  They had a funny way of playing as well in that, instead of crossing off the numbers they put stones on them instead.  A great idea until a kid bombing from one side of the room to the other bangs into your table.  At least when they were playing bingo, though, it meant they turned the music off.

There were also a couple of games for the kids to play.  They had a fishing game where you had to hook a plastic fish, a chicken game that involved throwing a rubber chicken into a tin and one where you had to knock over tins by throwing balls at them.  There was also a tent with a witch inside it, but our son wasn’t going anywhere near that one.

Lots of prizes to be won in the bingo.

Lots of prizes to be won in the bingo.

Thoughts

I went to my son’s school’s Festa Junina because there was no way of getting out of it.  If you are Brazilian and you grew up with this kind of thing then I suppose it makes sense.  You probably get all nostalgic at the thought of wearing clothes that a country yokel would deem beneath him.  The food is either so sweet it will take the enamel off your teeth or so bland as to taste of cardboard.  The bingo goes on forever, and just when you thought it was all over, along comes another game.

I have to say, though, that all the kids seemed to have a great time and I suppose that is what it is all about.  It was also very well organised by the school and it was obvious that a lot of effort went into getting everything to work well.

Unfortunately, there is no pleasing some cynical Englishmen.

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15 thoughts on “Festa Junina in Curitiba

  1. Your winter sounds just like our summer – its July and still it is raining!

    I am glad you seemed to ‘enjoy’ the party it makes you realise that your social life as a child in England wasn’t quite so bad after all! I only played a small amount of the music and I have to agree it was pretty awful but it did sound as though it was the sort of thing that children usually like. I bet you are hoping that future children’s parties will get better but unfortunately they don’t!

    Reply
  2. You love it really! You are going to get used to it and soon you’ll be writing positive reviews! I bet you’re even going to take up dancing classes to ‘get with it’! When in ‘Brazil’, do like the ‘Brazilians’!

    Reply
    • I did actually do one dance. It was all very confusing and I often ended up going the wrong way or doing the wrong thing.

      There are lots of things that I love about Brazil, but I am not sure if Festa Junina here in Curitiba will ever be one of them.

      Reply
  3. Pingback: August Culture Swapper | All Done Monkey

  4. Stephen, I understand your point of view towards Festas Juninas. Since I grew up in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and went to at least 3 festas juninas per year I can give you some advice. First, wear earplugs as sound can be very loud even though everyone else seems to be okay with it. Find the food you like the best and stick to it only – usually many of the food offered there can be found at bakeries year round (bolo de fuba, pe de moleque, milho, quentao, etc.). Be okay with messing up during the “quadrilha” dance; no one will care, really. They may laugh at first, but will forget within the next minute. Last advice: find one activity you like – as I can tell, It’s not bingo… To get your kid to stop playing, try to have him play with “estalinhos”, those noise making “pop it”; “pescaria” should also get him interested.
    I now live in a foreign country and try to find what I like in these festivals I am not used to. Good luck next year with that!
    Thereza

    Reply
    • Thanks for the advce. Upon re-reading the post it does seem very negative. While I am not a huge fan on Festa Junina it probably isn’t all that bad, and at least it is only once a year.
      I like your idea about wearing earplugs, though not because the music is so loud but because it is so incredibly bad.

      Reply
  5. ahah! Seems that you had the time of your life!
    As for the “bingo”, it’s more like a “rifle” or “quine” (a catalan version of this game) than the US type one. In a “rifle”, you have cards with numbers (like this: http://www.capcatalogne.com/photo_capcat/201011301141388.JPG ) and corn seeds or little plastic coins you put on the number when the game master said it (with many poetic or humorous wordings). You can play for the line ( the quine) or for the whole card…

    Reply
    • Could you tell I was having a great time?

      The bingo game was exactly the same as the one we used to play when I was a kid in the UK, with similar, funny-for-an-8-year-old word plays.

      Everyone else loved the whole thing, but I assume this was because they were re-living their childhoods. I don’t have that to fall back on, unfortuntately.

      Reply
  6. One time I bought our Brazilian friends some clothes for their baby. One was a cute plaid overall, her friend said “perfect for caipira!” Later she explained what it meant and we were laughing so hard:).

    Reply
    • Normally in early June the shops are full of plaid or checked clothes. This year, of course, it was more about yellow T-shirts and stuff that makes a lot of noise for when Brazil scores a goal.

      Reply

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