With 26 states and one Federal District, Brazil is the 5th largest country in the world with a history of more than 500 years. As a result of many years of large-scale migration from many different countries, the country’s cultural characteristic is very rich and diverse and demonstrated through folklore, dances, hundreds of musical rhythms and cuisine. The most recognisable Brazilian party is our colourful carnival that takes place all over the country for 4 consecutive days in the beginning of the year. During other periods of the year, many Brazilian states run their own traditional parties and folk festivals which are also vibrant and livened up with loud folk music, dance and food.
Many of the Brazilian parties are religious-related, with some of the most important ones paying tribute to catholic saints such as Saint John, Saint Anthony and Saint Peter. These celebrations are huge in the country and normally occur in the months of June and July. Some cities also have showgrounds that are set up to accommodate the June parties and they are so culturally important that are even part of school calendars. Every school spend a lot of time planning for their ‘June Party’ that usually happens on a Saturday starting early in the morning and finishing only at night with a bonfire and fireworks. The preparation consists of selecting food stalls, choosing games and activities, organising school fundraising, rehearsing students for choreographed folk dances called Quadrilhas, planning decoration, purchasing, etc. Parents are responsible for arranging the costume for their kids and sometimes work as volunteers helping with the preparation and selling of food or working at the game stalls. Girls traditionally wear a coloured check-patterned dress and a straw heat with hair is styled with two lower braids. They also wear a very particular and strong make up that consists of colourful eyeshadows, pink blush for the cheeks with fake freckles on top. Boys commonly wear coloured check-patterned shirts, denim pants, a straw hat and a fake moustache. The cheekiest of the girls may get dressed as a boy or the other way around. The whole school is decorated with lights, paper balloons and multi-coloured paper banners. Depending on the size of a school, it will receive dozens or even hundreds of hungry visitors for a day of entertainment and food. Highly caloric and sugary foods are sold in the stalls, like rich chocolate cakes, shortcakes, peanut brittles, buttery popcorn, corn custards and other corn delicacies, meat skewers, hot-dogs and sandwiches. In the South the popular party drink is the spicy Brazilian mulled wine known as Quentão. Related to the word quente that means hot in Portuguese, the festive Quentão keeps the partygoers warm while they enjoy an often chilli day.
3 cinnamon sticks
1 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1 cup (250ml) cachaça*
3 cups (750ml) fruity red wine (such as Shiraz)
2 cups (500ml) water
½ cup brown sugar
Zest of 2 oranges
Zest of 1 lime
1 piece of ginger (5cm), grated
*Available online or from large liquor stores
1. In a small frying pan, heat the cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg stirring over medium-low heat for 3-5 minutes or until fragrant. Roughly pound them in a mortar and pestle or small food processor.
2. In a large saucepan, combine all ingredients. Bring to the boil over high heat reduce the heat to low and cook, covered for 30 minutes.
3. Strain and divide among serving mugs.