Chequered shirts, straw hats and games – A little bit of Brazil in Conakry

Festa Junina was something I was completely oblivious about until a couple of days ago when my colleagues told me we were going to celebrate it here on Saturday. We then received the invitations, which basically stated “Wear chequered shirts and look like a hillbilly!”.

I had to do some research find out what this feast was about, considering that I know Brazilians find anything to party about, I wanted some more history about this feast.  Apart from asking my colleagues whose response was mostly don’t ask questions and just turn up for the party, which meant revert to using Google.

So what is a Festa Junina? Festas juninas were brought to Brazil by Portuguese and Spanish settlers celebrating the harvest and their favorite saints. The cool June weather calls for bonfires, lots of dancing, rich food and alcohol. People are also encouraged to dress up as “hillbillies” which usually means wearing strawhats, chequered shirts and rolled up trousers for men and well something along those lines for women (and hair with braids).

One of the highlights of a festa junina is a quadrilha, which is a type of square dance with sometimes over twenty participants. A “couple” getting married leads the other couples in the quadrilha. Their wedding ceremony is only one part of a complex dance. The groom always runs away and is often brought back by an angry father of the bride. It is quite a spectacle. Sometimes, the participants even switch roles, the girls dressed up as boys and the boys as girls. This makes the quadrilha even funnier. Colourful flags are strung up and paper hot-air balloons are released into the sky.

Our Festa Junina!

To find out more, check out this site (click here). Our Festa Junina due “lack of resources” could not be as extensive as the described above but was good fun nonetheless and a change to our normal Saturday routine and I did also finish second in musical chairs game and also fought until the last drop in a tugging war (where my team mates abandoned me and I was dragged across the floor not wanting to admit to defeat!).

Don’t take much to make me a hillbilly!

Unfortunately I didn’t take that many photos as I like to participate in these things to the detriment of photographic evidence however will be collecting some photos from colleagues to put on the Facebook page.

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