In Rio de Janeiro there’s a place dedicated to the rich culture of the northeast region of Brazil. It’s called Feira de São Cristovão. Even before the inauguration of the pavilion, people used to gather there to eat traditional food and dance to the sound of the concertina. The place was not safe though. Street fights weren’t rare and eventually, someone would draw a knife. Most people avoided the place.
I visited the Feira de São Cristovão on June 24th, St John’s Day (also known as Midsummer in some Northern countries). Inside, a maze of narrow corridors with stalls selling foods and crafts. The smell of grilled cheese filled the air. The place was even more vibrant than on ordinary days. Colorful flags decorated the ceilings. There was loud music flowing from speakers everywhere. Each one was playing a different song. Because of that, the music I was hearing changed every few steps. Although it was in the middle of winter the place was hot.
There are some restaurant options inside with air conditioning, which is an essential asset during the summer months. When I arrived at noon the place wasn’t crowded yet. I could easily find a table for lunch at Barraca da Chiquita. I ate a traditional dish, Carne-de-sol (dried beef) with cassava and Baião-de-dois (mix of beans and rice).
As customary in St John’s Day celebrations, there was square dancing. Little kids dressed in folk costume held hands in front of the stage. The girls were wearing pretty colorful dresses and the boys were wearing plaid shirts, jeans, and straw hats.
On another stage, a folk singer animated the crowd. Couples danced to the beat of Forró, a rhythm very popular in Brazil’s Northeast. Throughout June, celebrations like this happen all over the country.
Also published on Medium.