As on Christmas Day afternoons and Sunday evenings during childhood…that sense of disappointment which manifests itself after the eagerly anticipated has arrived, and passed…one (when in Brazil’s Nordeste, child or not), might be inclined to likewise feel let down after the sustained explosion of the June festivities which reach their climax on the eve of the Festa de São João (Feast Day of St. John the Baptist), on June 23rd (the festa/feast day itself being June 24th).
But no, dear amigos, the landing is gentle and continues to move. The festivities, although attenuated, continue to and through the Festa de São Pedro — the man with the Key — on June 29th. I will keep you apprised of festival-related happenings here in Pelourinho…
If one is in Salvador and feeling truly social there’s really only one place to be on the evening before the feast day of São João: Pelourinho, the Centro Histórico.
This is of course the night of the biggest of the June parties, and as certainly as Silent Night will be heard on Christmas Eve in Peoria, forró will be heard — and danced to — across the Nordeste of Brazil (of which Bahia is an integral part).
Here in Pelourinho there will be forró in the Terreiro de Jesus, in the Largo do Pelourinho, in Largo Pedro Archanjo, and in Largo Teresa Batista, a number of groups playing sequentially in each place. There will be thousands of people here. There will be the traditional liqueurs including jenipapo, tamarindo, milho (corn), amendoim (peanut; my favorite), maracujá (passion fruit; watch out who you drink it with!) and lots and lots of cerveja. There will be the traditional bombas (firecrackers) which originated supposedly as noisemakers to scare off evil spirits (do evil spirits frighten so easily?) in Europe during the festivities on the vesper of the feast of St. John the Baptist.
This is a great holiday and with respect to all wherever it’s celebrated it’s hard to imagine it being done better that they do it here in Brazil (where much if most is done badly…but not parties, music & dancing).
We are well into Brazil’s Nordeste’s (Northeast’s) season of June festivities, climaxing on the vesper before June 24th (evening of the 23rd), June 24th being the feast day of São João (the Nativity of St. John the Baptist).
In the Nordeste — geographically speaking more mideast than northeast really, but a culturally-defined area as well; band of what’s left of rainforest along the coast and a huge expanse of inland territory given to drought and hard living, where people take refuge in music and dance.
Much of this music falls under the umbrella term “forro”, played — at its most fundamental — with accordion — often a small, button version thereof — and triangle and zabumba, a Portuguese drum played in a tricky Afro-Brazilian manner.
So tonight, June 22nd, 2018, there will be forró in all three public squares in Pelourinho: Quincas Berro d’Água, Pedro Arcanjo, and Teresa Batista. A series of different groups and performers in each praça, and LOTS of dancing. Beginning six p.m. ish.