Here in Brazil, Festa Junina is in full swing. There are two different explanations for the term Festa Junina. The first explication is that it is named Festa Junina because the festival takes place in June. The other version says that the festival was created to pay homage to Sao Joao do Porto (St. John of Porto). Either way, Sao Joao plays a huge part in this festival and is celebrated specifically on June 24th. There is also a special celebration for Sao Pedro on June 29th and Santo Antonio on June 13th. Currently here in Salvador, there is a huge celebration for Sao Joao! I’ve went to Pelourinho two nights in a row for this celebration. Pelourinho is the historical center of Salvador, and is absolutely stunning on a normal day. During Sao Joao, Pelourinho is too amazing to put into words. Hundreds of people come together to eat, drink, and dance under the colorful lights strung around the main square. Live musicians play, and people dance traditional dances such as forro (pronounced: foho). All sorts of people dress up in their best festival clothes, but with a hint of a country theme as Sao Joao is a country themed holiday.
The best part of the holiday is to the see the unity and diversity of the people. Salvador has the highest population of Afro-Brazilians in Brazil, so the festival was full of Afro-Brazilians, of course. But they all had a beautiful and unique combination of features: dark skin with hazel eyes, light skin with dark, curly hair, or caramel skin with freckles and dark eyes. They also had a range of styles. Some people where what I would call, ‘hipsters’, some people went for a more hip hop look, some people were more into a mainstream look. And of course there were different levels of socioeconomic wealth represented there. Some people spent the night collecting discarded beer cans from the floor, while others flashed expensive phones while they took selfies. There were so many different kinds of people, but when the band played the right song, everyone would let out a call of approval, and would immediately begin singing and dancing. I love the way people dance here. In the U.S., dancing is from the hips, but here, dancing is all in the feet. Everyone knows the complex dance movements that has stumped most of the Americans that are on my trip. Being surrounded by these Brazilians was such a beautiful experience.